September 6, 2013
PostSecret Murder Confession: Real Or Hoax?
Killers have confessed to crimes in strange ways. Perhaps guilt weighs heavily; other times serial killers simply want the attention for their actions.
This could explain why social media confessions are on the rise.
Last weekend, as one of the Sunday Secrets that is posted weekly on the PostSecret Blog, a mystery developed – one in which the police were even called in.
It started when PostSecret founder Frank Warren uploaded a “Post-It” style not attached to an image that read, “I said she dumped me, but really I dumped her (body).” CNN reported that eagle-eyed users of the website Reddit were able to determine the location on the image to be within Chicago’s Jackson Park.
This spread throughout social media and soon the Chicago Police sought to look for a body.
“We basically had a cryptic message observed on the site pertaining to a possible criminal act,” Officer John Mirabelli told CNN Monday. “Officers immediately went to the park and conducted a search. There was no evidence of a crime or anything that was unusual.”
The police have been unable to find a body and this doesn’t appear to be connected with any recent and open missing person’s case.
User reaction was mixed, with some praising that someone would confess to such as act, while others called the post “exploitative and wrong.”
Warren reportedly started PostSecret as a way for people to share secrets anonymously, and in the nearly 10 years since launching the site he has received more than a half-million postcards to his Germantown, Maryland home.
The question is why someone would be so vapid to send such a hoax, especially as it wouldn’t entitle the sender to get any attention? If wasting police efforts was the goal, perhaps it was accomplished.
The question becomes whether this sort of hoax should be legal? It does veer dangerously close to dangerous speech (like yelling fire in a movie theater) and should not be protected by the first amendment.
Hoaxes like this online aren’t exactly common, but some can put people at risk. Imagine if someone was really murdered during a robbery because the police normally on a particular beat were in that park in Chicago?
This PostSecret hoax, and at present it does appear to be a hoax, is similar to one from 2005, when the media reported that a U.S. soldier had been taken hostage in Iraq.
This photo reportedly came from an Internet bulletin board that was frequented by Iraqi rebels, with the message:
“Our mujahideen heroes of Iraq’s Jihadi Battalion were able to capture American military man John Adam after killing a number of his comrades and capturing the rest. God willing, we will behead him if our female and male prisoners are not released from U.S. prisons within the maximum period of 72 hours from the time this statement has been released.”
The truth was that there was no John Adam, at least not one who was captured in Iraq. The image in the photos was actually “Cody,” a scale action figure sold by Dragon Models USA Inc. A week after the story first broke, a 20-year old Iraqi man took responsibility.
This may have put actual Iraqis and US soldier in danger.
It also showed how a picture, especially in the digital era, can’t be accepted at face value.
Image Credit: PostSecret