Looks like this is a hoax, but let’s flag it anyway to inflict maximum shame on the media and/or law enforcement sources who foisted this nightmare on the public before anyone had confirmed anything. At 6:40 p.m., CNN headlined an item on their “This Just In” blog, “20 bodies found in Texas home, official says”:
At least 20 bodies, including those of children, have been found at a home in Hardin, Texas, a federal official told CNN. Officers are securing the scene, the official said.
Texas news outlets also claimed that a “law enforcement source” had confirmed the existence of a mass grave at a home in Hardin, and that some of the remains belonged to children. How’d the police find out the bodies were there? Apparently, they got a tip. Guess who the tipster was:
A state law enforcement source later Tuesday afternoon told the Houston Chronicle that deputies had been directed to the site by a psychic.
“All we know is the sheriff department received a call about a mass grave, or something like that, with several bodies,” the source said. “They went and checked it, and there was nothing there. The caller went back and said, ‘No, you went to the wrong house.’
“They go back out and go to the house and see something dark that could have been blood, and do a persumpting test that is was human blood.”…
Shortly before 6 p.m., Liberty County sheriff’s spokesman Rex Evans said officers had not exhumed any bodies.
That’s from the Houston Chronicle, which actually names the homeowner and then quotes him denying that he’s killed anyone. The FBI confirms that it’s involved in the investigation, which means … what? That there’s evidence beside the psychic’s tip that corpses are buried on the property? Or that the FBI has nothing better to do in Houston than run down hot leads from clairvoyants?
Three possibilities here. One: The police screwed up very badly. Two: The media screwed up very badly. Three: This isn’t a hoax. Cross your fingers and hope that it’s one or both of the first two. Stand by for updates.
Update: Maybe there’s more to this than meets the eye. At a press conference, cops say they have no bodies yet but they’re waiting for a search warrant before gathering evidence. There’s no way they can claim probable cause based on a psychic’s tip — I hope — so there must be some additional evidence they’re not revealing. Either that, or this is a screw-up of historic proportions.
Update: They did say they found blood at the scene, which I guess is the basis for the probable cause.
“The details provided to us indicated there may have been a violent crime scene here,” Capt. Rex Evans said.
Sheriff’s deputies also observed signs of possible violence, Evans said, though he would not elaborate, saying he is not at liberty to discuss factors that led deputies to request the search warrant.
Update: The homeowner explains the blood found on the property:
He said there’s blood on the porch and in the house because his daughter’s boyfriend tried to commit suicide a couple of weeks ago.
“He got drunk and cut his wrist,” [he] said.
The boyfriend, an Army soldier, is now in a military psychiatric ward in Killeen, according to [the homeowner]. He said a police report was filed with the sheriff’s department.
Update (Ed): At the above link, this is somewhat ominous:
Bankston said he’s owned the property for a little over three years. He admitted his son, Joe, is a convicted sex offender, but said he hasn’t lived in Hardin for over a year.
“He lived with us for a little while, but had to go to Michigan about a year ago for a court appearance and never came back,” Bankston said. “Last I heard, he was in Ohio.”
A convicted sex offender lived there, took off a year ago and hasn’t been seen since? I’m no psychic, but I get a sense that there’s more than tarot cards behind this search.
Update: Every news outlet that had a police source telling them bodies had been found, starting with CNN and their “federal official,” should publish their names to shame them for pushing this story before they knew the facts. According to the Chronicle, it looks like the whole thing is a hoax:
A preliminary search by law enforcement officers found evidence of what they believed was blood but no sign of anything else, leading them to suggest the call may have been a hoax.
A search warrant was obtained and a quick look around revealed nothing out of order. A state law enforcement source confirmed that DPS officials had obtained the warrant and entered the residence, after making a fruitless search of the property.
A foul stench emanating from the house was found to be coming from piles of rotting garbage. And the blood found at the residence was related to an earlier incident, the source told the Houston Chronicle.