SHERBURN - Be careful when telling tall tales. It could get you charged with falsely reporting a crime.
Timothy Jude Brickner, an 18-year-old Fairmont man who attends Martin County West High School recently was issued a citation for falsely reporting a crime and disorderly conduct after allegedly creating a false Facebook account that was the springboard for several dark rumors, including one that involved the murder of a homeless hitchhiker.
"It was built up over serveral weeks," said Martin County Sheriff's Capt. Corey Klanderud. "He created this Facebook profile, and friended all the people from school. That's where it started."
The false profile started with a story about an alleged suicide, but then the stories spread and changed with several different versions emerging, including the false profile persona murdering the hitchhiker.
"We heard several different versions," Klanderud said.
Eventually, school officials learned of the stories and spoke with Brickner. Police were contacted Thursday.
"When the school talked with him, they became concerned," Klanderud said. "But we gave him several chances to come clean. When we first arrived, we said, 'This is your chance to tell the truth, to come clean, or else we could be looking at charges.' But he kept digging, and we needed to go through the whole investigation."
Because of the heavily detailed stories, other agencies in the area were contacted. Klanderud estimates authorities spent about four hours investigating the claims before Brickner admitted he had made up the entire thing.
"(His stories) were elaborate, but not perfect," Klanderud said. "There were still plenty of questions raised, but we had to err on the side of caution and investigate to prove him wrong."
Because of the unnecessary investigation, Brickner was cited for falsely reporting a crime and disorderly conduct. He also was taken to Mayo Clinic Health Systems, Fairmont, and placed on a 72-hour hold.
However, the stories are still circulating throughout the region and have taken on a life of their own.
"We had one woman call us and ask if it was safe to send her child to school, because she heard a person was taken out of school all bloodied and beaten," Klanderud said. "The rumors are still going."