A news hoax directed at the McLean County coroner’s office has proved more upsetting than funny.
In an article posted by the fake news site, www.foxnew-us.com, fictional author James Bleich reported that the house of a McLean County employee was raided by police, who discovered more than 200 penises preserved in jars of embalming fluid.
The article sources a “police spokesman,” who said authorities were trailing an organ trafficking network. It also features what appears to be a mugshot of an unknown man whose eyes are rimmed heavily with eyeliner.
“He explained in great detail how he had been cutting off dead men’s genital organs and collecting them for more than ten years,” the police spokesman is quoted in the article.
McLean County Coroner Dr. Kathy Davis said no one by the name of the person named as the McLean County employee has ever worked for the coroner’s office, and, as ridiculous as the fake article may seem, it immediately raised concerns.
“Someone thought this was funny, but it’s mean and cruel,” said Davis, whose name wasn’t mentioned in the article. “It’s sad for these families who think this may be true, and I feel bad for them.”
In the article, the person named as the police spokesman is said to be a “funeral employee,” which is the first indication the article is fake. The coroner’s office does not function as a funeral business. Further, once the coroner’s work is complete, the remains are usually sent to a funeral home, where missing body parts would likely be noticed.
Still, fake news continues to permeate the Internet and find prey in millions of viewers and readers. The fictitious site may look like the real Fox News site, but it is followed by “-us.net,” whereas the actual site is www.foxnews.com.
The fake domain is owned by a person, whose address is in Sydney, Australia. The author, Bleich, is also named in another article on yet another fake site, abcnews-us.com. The name of the owner of the ABC site is restricted, and has a Scottsdale, Ariz. address.
The origin of the mugshot used in the McLean County article is unknown.
The unknown man’s mugshot is also linked to articles on the worst mugshots, how to create the “smoky-eye” makeup effect, and why one should carry a gun to fend off terrorist attacks.
Davis said it’s doubtful any legal action can be taken against whomever is responsible for the hoax, but she hopes to quell the fears of those who believed it, and reiterated fake news does fool people.
“One of my physicians asked, ‘Did you ever think, as an elected official, this would ever happen to you?’” Davis said. “No. Not in my wildest dreams.”