A North Carolina woman has been arrested for allegedly making up a story about a missing mother and her newborn in order to get two other people to send her money, authorities said.
The strange saga began Thursday when the Scotland County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigative Unit asked via a Facebook post for the public’s help in finding an April Morrison and her baby girl, believed to be 2 or 3 weeks old. Authorities said they were notified of the missing duo by an unidentified woman and her daughter.
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In a Facebook post Friday night, however, the sheriff’s office said it had learned that the missing persons report was a hoax and that Morrison and her baby didn't exist. The department also said it had arrested Danilla Mitzia “Missy” Bethea for allegedly making up the story in order to get money from the woman and her daughter who had notified the police about the "missing" mother and child.
Initial reports of the disappearance led to a search by multiple agencies, including the FBI. Authorities said they were told that Morrison allegedly vanished from the nearby Richmond County area shortly after giving birth.
Investigators said they were told that Morrison was either dead or had been forced to leave the area after giving birth, and that her daughter was in the care of someone else.
During the investigation, the sheriff’s office said the woman and her daughter who reported Morrison missing believed that Bethea was taking care of the baby and feared she would gain custody of the child.
When Bethea was interviewed, she allegedly told deputies that Morrison was safe and that the baby was with someone else. Investigators said they later learned that Bethea made up the story to get the woman and her daughter to send her money.
“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,” the department said in its update Friday.
Bethea is being held on a $100,000 secured bond at the Scotland County Detention Facility on multiple counts.
Minyvonne Burke is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.