Police Use Facebook to Inform Mother of Son’s Death

Police in Clayton County, Georgia, informed a mother of her son death through Facebook

Anna Lamb-Creasey spent weeks questioning the whereabouts of her 30-year-old son Rickie Lamb. He’d been missing since January 25. She even wrote on his Facebook wall, “Rickie where are you? Love mom.” Little did she know that he had died in an un-ticketed hit-and-run, and that the police had in fact already tried to contact her about the tragic news.

The problem was in way the authorities attempted to contact her. An unofficial police Facebook account with the name “Misty Hancock” sent a message to Anna’s account informing her, but it was moved to a side account in her inbox simply labeled, “Other,” and she didn’t see the message for weeks. The profile picture was of someone she didn’t know posing with Atlanta rapper T.I., so she ignored it at first. The fact that “Misty Hancock” wasn’t friends with Lamb-Creasey or her daughter, who also got the message, essentially was the cause of Rickie’s body sitting in a morgue for 20 days. Her daughter finally called the number on Valentine’s Day and heard the tragic news.

Naturally, the grieving mother was infuriated with the way the police had handled this sensitive issue. Lamb-Creasey told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution,

“They told me that they did the best that they can do. But I’m not sure about that. (Because) if they can track a criminal down, they couldn’t track me down? They could have done better. I’ve been on my job 13 years. They could have found me.”

Police in Georgia used a Facebook message to notify a mother of her son's death

A little-known Facebook feature is that if one sends a message to someone they’re not “friends” with, the message will sit in the “Other” inbox unless the sender pays $1 per message. The payment is the only way to guarantee that the message will end up in their main inbox.

Police have at least admitted some culpability here, and they’re reportedly checking into exactly why that account was used instead of an official police account. Hopefully this incident will draw attention to professionalism standards for police, and make it so that no one else has to suffer the consequences of such a grave misunderstanding and lapse in judgement.