Jesse Jones

Thousands of photos returned to family of murdered woman after battle with Apple

Seattle, WA — For months, Byron Tate has been fighting through grief - and fighting Apple, the tech company.

But now, he’s had a breakthrough.

“It was just really exciting,” says Byron. “It really made the last six seven months worth it. Really.”

Byron has finally gained access to his late wife’s iCloud account, and the thousands of family photos in it.

“That was exciting being able to go through some of those with my son. Kind of relive some really fun moments,” says Byron.

In March, Byron’s wife, Lori, was with their 13-year-old son when police say two suspects attempted to snatch her purse, then hit her with a truck as they sped away from a Fred Meyer parking lot in Ballard.

She died two days later.

When we spoke to Byron last month, he asked us to help him to get the password to the account that had nearly nine thousand of Lori’s family photos. Her phone was never recovered, and the password he thought he had didn’t work.

“My affectionate term for her was ‘my sweet angel.’ She was everything to me,” said Byron at the time. “She was a really brilliant photographer and she had a lot of just brilliant photographs that would remind me of things that made her happy.”

Apple did not hand over the information easily. Byron spent close to seven months, hiring lawyers along the way, to get Apple to budge from its position.

“It seems like this clearly is not a priority for them,” said Byron. “It’s not something they perhaps have given a lot of thought to.”

We contacted Apple. The company’s position on cases like this is that it has no idea if the deceased person would want their information shared. They also cite federal privacy laws.

In Byron’s case, it required a court order and more to get the information from the company. But just yesterday, Byron got the call.

“Total elation, I would say,” he says of his reaction.

Now Byron will spend his time reliving the best parts of his life - photo by photo, memory by memory.

“I expected to feel a little bit sad and everything from viewing them,” says Byron. “But mainly joy. It just lightened my whole day.”

We wanted to make sure you can take control of your digital destiny without the struggle Byron went through. Experts recommend clearly spelling out in your will what online accounts your loved ones should be able to access after your death.

You can also save your family a lot of frustration by writing a letter outlining your wishes, or creating a document with account log-ins and passwords, to be used upon your death.

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