Kidnap hoax exploits fear of true evil - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Kidnap hoax exploits fear of true evil

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Posted: Wednesday, April 28, 2004 11:35 pm | Updated: 5:18 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

Some media stakeouts drip with anticipation. The one at the bishop’s house last June before he and his Buick were hauled off to infamy was like that.

Others, where some tragic crime or accident has occurred, whisper a hushed, anticlimactic sadness.

The one Wednesday in front of a Mormon church in west Mesa was neither, for literally nothing was there. No bullet holes, no crime victims, no police tape. Nothing had happened, and nothing was going to happen.

Police and media had scrambled to answer a chilling report that an 8-year-old had been kidnapped by two armed men in a rusty, red car. But by the time some reporters arrived, the story was already in doubt. A big tip-off was that no “Amber Alert” had been issued, something that’s done immediately these days when cops think a child really is missing.

Sure enough, the 13-year-old girl who filed the report now joins the growing ranks of Valley residents who have gotten their jollies by faking a kidnapping.

Freshest in our memory is the case of Glendale darlings Corina and Brianna Young. They were 13 and 12, respectively, when Corina reported in last November that her little sister had been kidnapped. Turned out the older girl was just covering for her fun-loving sis, who had chosen to spend the night smoking pot and drinking with friends.

Apparently the Mesa kid didn’t get the memo: Corina and Brianna spent time in juvenile detention. Authorities considered making their family repay police for the trouble the girls caused. A similar fate may await the little liar who caused Wednesday’s tumult.

Some hoaxers appear to be genuinely disturbed. The Cave Creek doctor who faked his own abduction two years ago, turning up in the trunk of his car in San Diego, later won a judge’s mercy because he suffered from mental illness.

But others can be described as nothing but selfish and malicious, cynically playing the police, the public and — most cruelly — their parents for suckers. In a common scenario, a young “kidnap” victim will vanish for a tryst with her boyfriend.

Still, police are obliged to treat these reports seriously. This is all the more so in Mesa, where a specter still hangs over the city.

The specter is that of Mikelle Biggs, who vanished without a trace more than five years ago. The scene of Wednesday’s hoax was not unlike that where the 11-year-old disappeared: A pleasant residential street where not only do bad things never happen, they are almost inconceivable.

These pranksters, if so light a term may be applied, certainly have learned how to push our buttons.

But the greatest outrage is not that so many reports turn out to be false.

The greatest outrage is that all too often in our sick world, they don’t.

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