Samara Duplessis is a 13-year-old Southfield, Michigan girl whose identity became wrapped up in a conspiracy theory that claimed Wayfair was selling humans. However, Duplessis is not missing. She was found safe shortly after the missing persons report was filed, according to her family.
Duplessis was reported missing May 7, 2020, but within 48 hours, she was safe at home with her father. Missing persons cases, especially reports involving missing children, are often resolved within a very short period of time with the person found safe, according to the 2019 National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Missing Person and Unidentified Person Statistics. The data indicates that 99.64 percent of missing persons cases end with the person being found or simply returning home.
Duplessis’ missing persons case unfolded much as they often do, with worried parents reporting their child is gone, and the worst fears quickly dissipating into a happy ending. A pillow bearing the name “Duplessis” caused the case to resurface.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Samara Duplessis Was Reported Missing After She Did Not Come Back Inside When Taking Out the Trash But Was Quickly Found
Samara Duplessis, 13, of Southfield, Michigan was reported missing by her family on May 7, 2020, and found shortly thereafter. Local news accounts picked up the story on May 8, 2020, when the case was not immediately resolved. WXYZ reported Duplessis was taking the garbage out, and never came back.
“Police say she is 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighs approximately 110 pounds. She has long brown hair in braids and hazel eyes and was wearing a gray and pink hoodie, black leggings and black Ugg boots,” WXYZ reported. “Anyone with information regarding her whereabouts is asked to call Southfield PD at 248-796-5500.”
However, the next day, Duplessis’ family confirmed that she was found safe, and was back home with her father. A conspiracy theory claiming Duplessis was being trafficked on Wayfair was debunked as she was missing less than 48 hours. The conspiracy theory stemmed from an overpriced pillow containing the name “Duplessis.”
Snopes reported on the theory, which involved several others reported missing and questioning whether they were being trafficked by Wayfair. Snopes called the claim “false.”
Generally speaking, the images showing expensive cabinets and large price differentials on pillows, shower curtains, and other items on Wayfair’s website are real. However, it takes quite a leap in logic to arrive at the conclusion that this is evidence that the store is engaged in child trafficking.
In fact, the more we pondered this claim, the more nonsensical it appeared. Would a large business really use their official website to allow people to purchase children online? As these items are available to anyone with internet access, wouldn’t it be possible for someone to accidentally become involved in child trafficking? Why would a child trafficking operation use a method that would be so easy to track?
This claim is largely based on the idea that $10,000 is simply too expensive for a cabinet, and that there has to be some other explanation — child trafficking — to justify its cost. In a statement to Newsweek, however, Wayfair noted that these were industrial grade cabinets, and that they had been accurately priced. Wayfair said that they temporarily removed these items, as the accompanying descriptions did not accurately explain the reason for the price point.
2. Samara Duplessis Was Found Safe & Returned Home Within 48 Hours
There is one big problem with the conspiracy theory that Wayfair is selling humans like Samara Duplessis: The 13-year-old Southfield, Michigan girl is no longer missing. Duplessis’ family reported to Southfield Police on May 7, 2020, that the teen never came back inside after she took out the trash. News reports picked up the missing persons case May 8. By May 9, she was safe at home.
Kevin M. Duplessis Jr. announced on Facebook his daughter was safe that evening.
“Thanks everyone for your prayers,” he wrote. “Someone noticed my son’s post and contacted him regarding Samara. My daughter has been located, and is currently with me. I have been overwhelmed by the love and support everyone has shown. I thank each and every person that shared a post, said a prayer, and gave their time. I love and appreciate you all.”
Her mother, Tam Slaten, also shared an announcement that her daughter was found safe and sound.
“FOUND HER!!! Thank you for your unstoppable Prayers!!! This is what happens when God’s People get together and bombard the Heavens! I never doubted God!! He is always faithful!” she wrote.
Another family member, Michele Duplessis, also confirmed on Facebook that the teen was found safe.
“We have Samara…my father in-law is with her right now….thank you all for the prayers and post!” she wrote.
The next day, on Mother’s Day, Duplessis’ mom shared a joyful post about her family being safe together. Some Reddit users questioned why Duplessis’ mom shared an old photo of her daughter, but the girl’s father said the night before that his daughter was with him.
“This is what Peace feels like! Having them All together!🙏🙏🙏 Thank you again for ALL PRAYERS! HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!!!” she wrote.
3. Samara Duplessis Became Entangled With the Wayfair Conspiracy Theory Because of the Duplessis Pillow & Matching Shower Curtain
Internet sleuths and conspiracy theorists tied 13-year-old Samara Duplessis to a theory claiming Wayfair was selling humans, apparently originating with a Zodiac pillow bearing the teen’s name.
Twitter user All Black Lives Matter shared screenshots of the products online, matching them to Samara Duplessis, who had been found safe more than two months earlier. Screenshots showed a Duplessis Zodiac Sign Astrological Constellation Personalized Throw Pillow listed for $9,999 and a shower curtain with the same design also listed for a whopping $9,999.
“Y’all this Wayfair Human trafficking thing is crazy. Look at this, there are two pillows/shower curtains that are the exact same, but one is $100 and the other is $10K. The $10K one is named the same thing as a Black girl missing in Michigan…”
On Saturday, July 11, 2020, the pillow was listed for $32.49.
4. Wayfair Denied the Claims That the Company Was Trafficking Humans Through Online Sales
Wayfair denied the claims that the company was selling humans online in a statement to FOX Business.
The conspiracy theory appeared to begin on Reddit’s user-submitted conspiracy thread, r/conspiracy, with a post sharing screenshots of high-priced cabinets matching the names of teens who had been reported missing.
“Is it possible Wayfair involved in Human trafficking with their WFX Utility collection? Or are these just extremely overpriced cabinets? (Note the names of the cabinets) this makes me sick to my stomach if it’s true :(,” wrote the Redditor, PrincessPeach1987.
“There is, of course, no truth to these claims,” Susan Frechette, a Wayfair spokeswoman told FOX Business in an email Friday. “The products in question are industrial grade cabinets that are accurately priced.”
Wayfair temporarily removed the products online, Frechette told FOX Business.
“Recognizing that the photos and descriptions provided by the supplier did not adequately explain the high price point, we have temporarily removed the products from site to rename them and to provide a more in-depth description and photos that accurately depict the product to clarify the price point,” Frechette said.
5. FBI Statistics Indicate the Vast Majority of Missing Persons Cases Are Quickly Resolved With a Person Found Safe
It is not at all uncommon for a teen or an adult to be reported missing to authorities, only to be found safe shortly thereafter. The person may have forgotten to tell family members where they were going, and had no idea that anyone was concerned. FBI statistics indicate that the vast majority of missing persons cases are resolved with a happy ending.
In 2019, law enforcement across the country entered missing persons reports into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Missing Person and Unidentified Person database. A total of 609,275 missing persons cases were entered into the system. By the close of 2019, 607,104 of those cases were purged, meaning the person was found, the person returned home, or the entry was deleted because it was an invalid entry. That means 99.64 percent of missing persons cases are resolved with the person found safe.
“As of December 31, 2019, NCIC contained 87,438 active missing person records. Juveniles under the age of 18 account for 30,618 (35 percent) of the records and 38,796 (44 percent) records when juveniles are defined as under 21 years of age,” the data says. “During 2019, 609,275 missing person records were entered into NCIC. Missing Person records purged during the same period totaled 607,104. Reasons for these removals include: a law enforcement agency located the subject, the individual returned home, or the record had to be removed by the entering agency due to a determination that the record is invalid.”
Snopes debunked the theory that Wayfair is trafficking children, piecing together the way that the theory originated.
“In July 2020, some social media users accused the furniture store Wayfair of trafficking children. This gravely serious accusation was not based on police reports, firsthand accounts, financial records, or deep investigative reporting. Rather, it was based on the fact that some items on Wayfair were listed at exorbitant prices compared to other, similar items,” Snopes reported.
A petition appeared on Change.org Friday, calling on the FBI to investigate the claim that Wayfair was involved in human trafficking. The petition was later deleted.
“We want the FBI want to investigate Wayfair and ALL of the websites linked to this presumed sex trafficking ring that was found on 10 JUL 2020,” the petition said.