On March 8, an 18-year-old named Breana Harmon Talbott walked into a church in Denison, TX, wearing only her underwear and a shirt, claiming to have escaped three men in ski masks who abducted and raped her. On Wednesday, the local police department announced that they had found Talbott’s allegations to be a hoax.
In a statement on Facebook, the Denison Texas Police Department recounted Talbott’s allegations:
She told witnesses at the church she had been kidnapped and sexually assaulted in the woods behind the church. There were also visible cuts and/or scratches on her body.
DPD officers and detectives spoke with the victim who stated she was kidnapped near her vehicle at the Creekmore Apartments by “3 black males” as she described the alleged suspects, and were wearing ski masks, she said. She claimed the suspects took her in a black SUV to a wooded area nearby where 2 suspects raped her while the 3rd suspect held her down.
Earlier that day, Talbott’s fiancé had reported her missing, and her car had been found in a parking lot with “the driver door open, her phone, keys and a shoe nearby.” Talbott was taken to the hospital, but medical examiners were unable to find evidence that she’d been assaulted.
As her story took off on social media, the police state her story began to unravel and she eventually admitted her scratches were self-inflicted. In his statement, Chief Jay Burch says that they believed Talbott was lying very soon into the investigation but held back an announcement until they had “100% confirmation.” In that time, Talbott was turned into a talking point for white supremacists.
Talbott finally confessed to lying on Tuesday night, according to the Herald Democrat. Her former fiancé, Sam Hollingsworth, does not appear to have been involved with Talbott’s hoax, telling the paper that he ended the relationship. “I was hurt knowing that someone who I thought I could trust and I was wanting to spend the rest of my life with could betray me like this,” he added.
In their statement, the police apologized to the community for the harm Talbott caused:
This alleged crime as reported by Breana Harmon Talbott made many in the community fearful there were individuals abducting women. Even though we know the story to be a hoax, there is still potential damage to the reputation of the City of Denison and the Texoma region as many may remember the reported crime but not the outcome. That is unfortunate.
Breana Harmon Talbott’s hoax was also insulting to our community and especially offensive to the African-American community due to her description of the so-called suspects in her hoax. The anger and hurts caused from such a hoax are difficult and all so unnecessary.
The department is lodging a criminal case against Talbott for making a “False Report to a Peace Officer.”