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Pleas For Help: Missing & Dying Children

The messages about forwarding email to help dying children relies on the hoax that forwarded email can be tracked.  Since we know it can't, all of these are hoaxes.  These types of messages cause real problems for real agencies.  The Make-A-Wish Foundation, the target of several hoaxes, spends time and energy debunking hoaxes, taking time away from their work with children.  The police agencies called about a bogus missing child alert take time away from their duties to tell people that the message is not correct.  Please check with a hoax researcher before contacting any company, agency or law enforcement agency about a questionable message.  Hoax researchers have the time and energy to devote to such things, these agencies and companies don't and shouldn't have to.

The messages are designed to pull at our heartstrings.  They make us think that we can help someone without lifting anything more than a mouse.  Guilt inducing language is used, such as "if you delete this, you have no heart,"  or "what goes around comes around."  One could wish that to be true for the designers of these hoax messages.

Messages about missing children need to be checked either through a reliable hoax debunking site or directly through the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.  PLEASE, PLEASE, DO NOT forward these messages until they have been checked.  Most are outright hoaxes, many are years old and the rest are generally solved.  Forwarding these, especially the hoaxes, compromises the Amber Alert system as well.

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Missing Child Penny Brown

This message was circulating back in 2000. No child by that name has ever been reported missing according to the Center for Missing and Exploited Children.  No one knows who the child in the picture ( a red haired girl between the age of 8 - 11 yrs.) included in the message was and no one ever came forward with an identification.

Missing Teen Evan Trembley

A big hoax.  The kid did this himself.  He used the text from a couple of old hoaxes and substituted his picture.

Missing Child Jewel Strong

This is not exactly a hoax, but old and inaccurate.  2 1/2 year old Jewel Strong went missing May 28, 2006 off Jetty Beach in Panama City, FL.  It was believed that she drowned, but the body was never found.  She was from Morrow, GA, but was visiting her grandparents at the time.


The family claims that authorities would not issue a missing persons report because they believe that she drowned and it would be contradictory to their claim.  Yeah, I am so sure that the police have no desire to find a missing child.  Witnesses saw the child being pulled under by a strong current.  It seems there is a grieving family here who cannot accept what happened and have developed a conspiracy theory to give them hope.  One of those witnesses was the child's 18 year old cousin, who was also pulled by the current, but managed to get free.  Rip currents in Florida are very common (I live in Florida).

Missing Teen Ashley Flores

The missing girl message about Ashley Flores is an exact duplicate of the Penny Brown message. The picture was of a teenager by the name of Vicki who posted her picture and information on Myspace.  When contacted about this by Urban Legends and Folklore, this was Vicki's reply:  Ashley Flores is not missing it was a merely a joke that got completely out of hand please inform everyone that e-mail that she is NOT missing it was a joke I'm sorry about any confusion.

Missing Child Rachelle Smith

On May 16, 2006, Reachell Smith was abducted from her home by Leigh Cowan, a non-relative who lived in the home, on May 16th.  He was later found dead after committing suicide.  An active search for the child was called off.  Police have little to go on to find out what he did with her.  Police are not looking for a living child, but what he did with her body. 




This has been circulating since about 1999.  The "Slow Dance" piece was added in 2001. The poem was written by David L. Weatherford and published in 1991 by the Russ Berrie Company.  Some versions have the name of a Dr. Shields as the sender. Dr. Shields' involvement with this letter is a case of False Attribution Syndrome. He has nothing to do with this hoax other than the fact that he forwarded the message and automatically attached his "signature" to it.

Rachel Arlington Hoax

This is an old message that had a new lease on life in 2002 thanks to a sweet picture of a baby.  The message was supposedly from her father.  The new, 2002 version claims that the child is 10 months old and has leukemia.  Little Rachel is growing younger! 

The American Cancer Society

This one claims that the American Cancer Society will donate 3 cents for every forwarded email for a dying child or even for some named adults.  One version contains a poem called "Slow Dance" with claims that it has been written by a sick child.  None are true.  The ACS has denounced all and once again, this hurts a real agency.  By the way, ACS RECEIVES donations for cancer research.  They don't donate it.  You can never help anyone by forwarding email.

Amy Bruce (or other children) and the Make-A-Wish Foundation

Same story, different verse.  These messages have made the Make-A-Wish Foundation very unhappy.  According to APB News, they receive hundreds of inquires about these hoaxes every week. "These calls divert our staff and resources from fulfilling existing wishes," President and CEO Paula Van Ness said. You can never help anyone by forwarding email.


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Truth Miners is run by, owned by, written by and maintained by Cathy Holden - all articles, unless noted, are written by me.  Ask for reprint permission please.  Thanks!