A 12-year-old girl sparked a major police investigation by telling authorities she had been kidnapped by two men — before later admitting she had made up the story.
The girl said she was dragged from inside her home near Paxton, Florida, and forced into the back of a pick-up truck by a man with "shaggy hair" who "put his hands over her mouth."
She told the Walton County Sheriff's Office that the vehicle was driven away by another man but that she was able to escape when it slowed. The girl claimed she'd walked for several hours through woods to find a house where a 911 call was made. That residence was about four miles from where the girl lives.
Authorities launched a search for the suspects based on her description. "We are bringing in all available resources on this case," Sheriff Michael Adkinson said in a news release issued on Tuesday night. "There is nothing more important right now than catching these suspects. We are very proud of the courage shown by this strong young lady today."
However, the sheriff's office issued an update late Tuesday after the girl admitted her story was made up. "Although she sought help from someone miles from her home it was later discovered she was not forced into a pick-up truck by two men and taken from her residence," it said.
"At the time we felt like she was a credible witness and we had to go on what she was telling us," Adkinson said in the update. "Our primary concern is the health, welfare, and safety of our children. Hopefully now the people of Walton County will be able sleep easy."
The Walton County Sheriff's Office declined to comment early Wednesday when asked by NBC News whether the girl would face any charges over her fabricated story.