Fact check: False claim of man allegedly terrorizing several towns

The claim: A man is allegedly terrorizing towns for money and stabbing people

Several Facebook users are posting in local groups across the country about a man allegedly terrorizing citizens for money.

"BE ON THE LOOKOUT for this man, he is terrorizing homes in Mesquite," reads a Sept. 10 Facebook post that has been shared over 1,800 times. "He is saying that he got evicted from the house he was living and he needs money to travel back to Houston. He’s been doing this to many as said by the police. . (sic) He stabbed a 67year (sic) old woman last night when she refused to give him money. HE IS (sic) now wanted by the police for several crimes. If he knocks on your door, please call 911. WARN OTHERS."

Almost identical posts have appeared on Facebook pages all over the country. Some users even posted the same content on pages associated with locations that are hundreds of miles away from each other on the same day. For example, one user posted the same message in pages linked to Lenoir City, Tennessee, Mesquite, Texas and Borden, Indiana. Other posts claimed the alleged crime took place in Fort Stockton, Texas and Avon, Ohio.

But, the claims are false.

Several police departments told USA TODAY no such crime occurred in their communities.

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USA TODAY reached out to several users who shared the claim for comment.

Police departments: No such crime reported in our communities

All of the posts claim a man is "terrorizing" a particular community and include the same photo of a person with a beard and jacket.

But no crime like that alleged in the claim took place in any of the communities mentioned, according to local law enforcement.

Jim Drozdowski of the Avon Police Department, David Soynn of the Lenoir City Police Department, Brad Shepherd of the Borden Police Department, Brandon Ricketts of the Mesquite Police Department and Robert Lujan of the Fort Stockton Police Department all told USA TODAY that no such crime had occurred.

"We have had no calls about anyone terrorizing or harassing anyone," Drozdowski said. "Our phones would have been blowing up in a heartbeat."

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Others had already heard about the post. The department in Fort Stockton even created its own Facebook post to address the claim.

"This photo is fake, The Fort Stockton Police Department in (sic) NOT currently working a case on this matter," reads part of the post. "Hackers normally post pictures like this with hopes that it causes panic and have it shared multiple times, then they will change the picture to something with a link."

Our rating: False

Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that a man is allegedly terrorizing towns for money and stabbing people. Spokespeople from police departments in Lenoir City, Avon, Borden, Mesquite and Fort Stockton said there had been no reports of a crime like the one alleged in the claim.//the one described in the Facebook posts.

Our fact-check sources:

  • Jim Drozdowski, Sept. 19, Phone interview with USA TODAY

  • David Soynn, Sept. 19, Phone interview with USA TODAY

  • Brad Shepherd, Sept. 19, Phone interview with USA TODAY

  • Brandon Ricketts, Sept. 19, Phone interview with USA TODAY

  • Robert Lujan, Sept. 20, Email interview with USA TODAY

  • Fort Stockton Police, accessed Sept. 15, Facebook post

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: False claim of man allegedly terrorizing several towns