A false tip from a psychic prompted Texas authorities to swarm a rural home searching for a nonexistent mass grave and up to 30 bodies, including those of dismembered children.
A few hours later it was clear the tip was nothing more than a gruesome wild goose chase.
"There’s no crime scene," Liberty County Judge Craig McNair told reporters as deputies, Texas Rangers and FBI agents wrapped up a fruitless search that gained national media attention.
Mr McNair and Capt Rex Evans, spokesman for the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, said the woman who twice called in the tip would be investigated for making a false report.
Mr Evans said the sheriff’s office took the tip seriously because she claimed children’s bodies were in the mix. The department called the FBI for help, and the Texas Rangers spent hours obtaining a warrant to search the one-storey brick home at a rural intersection near Hardin, about 82km east of Houston. A cadaver dog also joined the search.
But soon after media reports said the sheriff’s office confirmed having found bodies, outlets quoted the same agency saying they had no evidence of them.
The Houston Chronicle and KHOU-TV tracked down the home’s occupant, who said he and his wife, both long-haul truck drivers, had left on Sunday en route to Georgia and he knew nothing about dead bodies.
"I haven’t killed anybody," Joe Bankson told the Chronicle .
He told the television station his daughter’s ex-boyfriend had gotten drunk and cut his wrist at the home two weeks before, possibly leaving blood that might have piqued investigators’ interest.
Mr Evans declined to address details when he finally addressed reporters as other officers packed up to leave.
"A this time no bodies have been recovered," Mr Evans said. "We have investigated this part of the scene as much as we can."
Pressure from the United Patriots Front Stops Mosque Plan 2016-04-28 20:10
Pressure from the United Patriots Front appears to have killed off a mosque development in Narre Warren North.
The City of Casey council now looks likely to withhold planning approval for the development in a special meeting set for Tuesday night.
A council report, to be considered by councillors on Tuesday, recommends that the approval be blocked.
The mosque opponents’ cause has been helped by councillor ...
Police face questions over the influence of the Freemasons 2016-04-28 20:48
South Yorkshire Police today face questions over whether powerful 'secret society' the Freemasons held sway over the force at the time of Hillsborough.
Families of victims say that officers who were Masons were promoted into powerful positions despite being ill-equipped, including match commander David Duckenfield.
Duckenfield told the fresh inquests he had been a Freemason since 1975 and became head of his ...
England Bans its Own Flag to Avoid Offending Muslims 2016-04-27 2:23 St. George's Cross "racist" towards immigrants
Government officials said their city was ‘too multicultural’ to celebrate St George’s Day, England’s version of the 4th of July.
The council said that displaying the English flag may have been seen as “racist” towards immigrants.
Half of Western European men descended from one Bronze Age ‘king’ 2016-04-27 2:09
Half of Western European men are descended from one Bronze Age ‘king’ who sired a dynasty of elite nobles which spread throughout Europe, a new study has shown.
The monarch, who lived around 4,000 years ago, is likely to have been one of the earliest chieftains to take power in the continent.
He was part of a new order which emerged in ...
"Local Residents" Are Filmed Stealing Dozens of Bottles of Water at London Marathon Stop 2016-04-25 23:10
Editor's Comment: "Local" residents? Why bother blurring their faces? We know who they are.
London marathon runners were robbed of dozens of bottled waters when thieves raided a refreshment area armed with trolleys during today's race.
Nearby residents - including parents with children - were captured on camera piling up crates of free water handed out by volunteers during the 26-mile event.