Earlier this month, cable-news harridan Nancy Grace showed viewers of her nightly crime-fest a photo of a man who'd allegedly broken into a Denver home and taken a selfie on a woman's cell phone while she was putting her child to bed. "This is a textbook serial-killer's calling card," Grace declares in a clip below, using her usual tone of maximum outrage. Problem is, the man in the pic was actually in California at the time of the incident, which was entirely innocent. Not that the Denver police broke any speed records telling the public about it.
A Metro Denver Crime Stoppers alert sent to media outlets like this one on February 7 sported not one, but two copies of the image seen above....
...as well as this narrative:
On January 29, 2014 at about 9:20 PM while the victim was putting her children to bed the pictured male entered the victim's residence in the 3400 block of West Amherst Ave. by an unknown means and used the victim's cell phone to take this photograph of himself. The suspect is unknown to the family however he has been seen walking in the neighborhood in the past. If you can recognize this person please call Metro Denver Crime Stoppers.
Before long, this tale had made its way to Grace. Here's a clip posted on her official YouTube channel; it remains on online at this writing:
Scary stuff -- but completely bogus. Yesterday, Crime Stoppers, with which 9News has long been affiliated, contacted the station with news that the man pictured in the aforementioned alert had been cleared of any wrongdoing -- and it appeared no crime had actually taken place.
What happened? According to the station, the California man in the photo was mutual Facebook friends with the husband of the woman who thought her home had been invaded. The hubby thinks someone must have accidentally sent the pic to his wife while photo streaming.
Apparently, the husband didn't immediately recognize the man in the photo from the fuzzy, blurred-out shot -- nor did he or his wife realize that the background of the shot didn't actually match the house where it was supposedly snapped.
When word reached the photo subject about the Denver police alert, he immediately reached out to the department. However, no one got back to him for at least four days, causing him untold anxiety. Turns out he was looking for a job at the same time he appeared to be the focus of a nationwide manhunt.
Finally, the Denver cops dropped the matter, but they didn't send out a release exonerating the man and explaining the situation -- and no such notice is on the Crime Stoppers Facebook page at this writing, either. As a result, more than two weeks went by before 9News learned the truth.
DPD spokeswoman Racquel Lopez claimed on camera that the department stands by its handling of the case. But we're guessing some crow will be eaten before this story runs its course.
Here's the 9News report.
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Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
More from our Colorado Crimes archive circa August 2013: "Lindsye Newton and friends allegedly beat man for accidentally photo bombing their selfie."