Ripley woman admits rape claim was a hoax

RIPLEY – A Ripley woman who claimed to have been raped in her home by a burglar in early May has admitted that the incident never took place, and that she deliberately injured herself to make her allegations more believable, authorities said this week.

District Attorney Ben Creekmore declined to name the woman, who is now under a doctor’s care. He confirmed that she will face felony charges in connection with the incident.

The woman’s original claim was that she came home to find two men burglarizing her house – and that one later raped her. That claim triggered an all-out manhunt, and led to rewards totaling $6,000 being offered by Crime Stoppers and a private donor for information that would break the case.

“The entire incident was fabricated. There was no intruder or assailment. No third party ever existed. She had minor injuries to her face and head, but they were not caused by any other individuals. It’s easy to conclude those injuries were self-inflicted.

“We expect her to waive indictment by the Tippah County Grand Jury, and we’ll file a criminal information in Tippah County Circuit Court in the near future, as soon as we can coordinate it with her attorney, Tony Farese of Ashland. The charge will be in the nature of obstruction of justice,” the district attorney said.

The District Attorney’s office is seeking reimbursement to area law enforcement agencies for the costs incurred in the case. “Those costs haven’t been finalized, but they’re expected to be approximately $6,000,” Creekmore said.

“Efforts are currently being made by the alleged victim to reimburse the City of Ripley Police Department and the Tippah County Sheriff’s Department for the expenses incurred in this investigation,” Creekmore said.

The district attorney declined to discuss what motivated the woman to do what she did.

“I don’t want to speculate on her motivation at this point. From our point of view, however, a false report was harmful in that it tied up a number of resources that could have been used for investigating other crimes. Fortunately, during that period of time there were no other emergency situations. The situation could have ended up being a lot more detrimental than it was.” He declined to say what first made investigators suspicious of the woman’s story. “It made me proud that our investigators – primarily Ripley Police Investigator Scott Watson – were quickly able to get to the bottom of this without too much difficulty. It reinforces my confidence in the job those agencies are doing.”

Watson led a multi-agency investigation that included the Tippah County Sheriff’s Department, the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, Investigator Kelly McMillen of the Marshall County Sheriff’s Department, Pammie Davidson and Rob Elliott with the District Attorney’s Office, the Mississippi State Crime Lab, an artist rendering of a suspect performed by an expert with the Memphis Police Department, and DNA analyses performed by the Scales Bio Lab of Jackson, Mississippi, Creekmore said.

“Through the efforts of these agencies it was determined that the allegations were fabricated and the incident did not occur. The alleged victim confirmed the results of the investigation,” the district attorney said.

He concluded: “It is the intention of our office to deal with this young girl in such a way that not only can we prevent this from happening again, but hopefully we can assist her in coming to terms with why this happened, and require her to address the issues she has.”

Hank Wiesner/Southern Sentinel