After searching tirelessly for a missing mother named April Morrison and her newly born child, authorities have now announced that the story was made up. It turns out that the baby’s photo was taken from Facebook and the entire story was made up “fake news,” possibly spread with the hope of making money. Here’s what we know so far.
1. Authorities Announced on Friday Night that the April Morrison Story Was Made Up
On the evening of February 1, authorities announced that the missing mom and her newborn baby were never missing at all. While the public breathlessly searched for signs of the baby and waited on news, it turned out that the whole thing was made up, WECT reported.
Scotland County Sheriff’s Office said that April Morrison never existed, and the baby’s photo was taken from social media. One suspect is in custody and authorities are seeking to arrest a second suspect.
The original missing person report was sent to the police by a mother and daughter who said they thought a female baby was born to April Morrison, WMBF News reported. The reports indicated that April was being held against her will.
2. Danilla Mitzia ‘Missy’ Bethea Was Arrested for Spreading the False Story, Possibly for Money
Danilla Mitzia ‘Missy’ Bethea was arrested, WMBF News reported. She’s 30 and from Rockingham, North Carolina. She was arrested on 10 counts of felony obtaining property by false pretenses, along with one count of felony false reports to law enforcement pertaining a missing child. She’s being held on a $100,000 bond at the Scotland County Detention Facility.
Bethea was providing information to authorities. They suspected she was lying when she later told them that April was safe and her baby was being taken care of by a third party who was keeping the baby safe too.
Scotland County Sheriff’s Office said, “Upon further investigation, investigators determined that the statements provided by Bethea were allegedly false. April Morrison was a fictional character and there was no infant child named Lee Ann Morrison. These false statements were allegedly made and provided for the purposes of allegedly receiving money, from the reporting party, who believed she was supporting an infant child in need, and one whom she believed she would gain custody or guardianship over. The image of the infant child provided was an image obtained allegedly through social media.”
It appeared, according to Scotland County, that the suspect was allegedly spreading the false information so someone would give money to help support the infant and eventually obtain custody of the baby.
3. The Original Story Said the Mother, Who Spoke English & Spanish, Might Be Deceased
The original story alleged that a woman named April Morrison, who spoke English and Spanish, was staying at hotels and motels in the Scotland County or Fayetteville area, Fox 8 reported. Authorities were concerned because they had learned that April might have died, and the baby was only two to three weeks old and “not in the care of her mother.”
The mom (who ended up not existing) might have been Puerto Rican, authorities said. And the baby, as the story went, was possibly named Lee Anne Morrison.
4. The Story Hinted at Sex Trafficking, Which Helped the News Spread So Fast
The story hinted at possible sex trafficking, helping the news spread so fast. April was said to be staying at hotels or motels in the area and might have “been removed from the Scotland County and/or Richmond County Area possibly under fear or coercion,” Fox 8 reported. Authorities said the mom might have been in the area under an alias.
Scotland County Sheriff’s Office wrote on Facebook on Thursday, “The Scotland County Sheriff’s Office, is in search of a Hispanic female known as, April Morrison. April is a Hispanic female, possibly Puerto Rican or similar, and speaks both English and Spanish. April was reported to have arrived in the Richmond County area, approximately 8 months pregnant. April gave birth to a female infant child recently, and the infant is believed to be in danger and not in the care of her mother. Our agency has not positively identified the infant, and has reasonable suspicion that April is operating under an alias. April was believed to be staying in local motels or hotels, between Richmond County, Scotland County and Fayetteville, NC.”
They later clarified that they didn’t know if the baby was with the mom or not, and weren’t certain of the mom’s real name or if the mom was even alive.
The people who originally reported the missing person case had told investigators that the mom or the infant daughter might have been victims of human trafficking or prostitution, WMBF reported. They suggested the baby might be sold for money or for drugs, either with or without April’s consent.
5. The Baby’s Photo Was Stolen from a Social Media Page, & Some Questioned the Story from the Beginning
Lara Wrightson revealed on Facebook that the picture circulating was of her baby and it was stolen from her Facebook page. “That is my baby and she is fine,” she wrote on the Scotland County Sheriff’s Office’s Facebook page. “It was a stolen picture.” The photo is not public on Wrightson’s Facebook page, so her statement can’t be confirmed. However, authorities did say that the baby’s photo was taken from a social media post.
From the beginning, alert residents pointed out holes in the story. Amanda Chase wrote, “I’m confused. The baby’s mother is April,but she’s believed to not be in the care of her mother.”
Others also voiced confusion about the strange nature of the reports. It turned out, according to authorities, that their suspicions were correct.