BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County District Attorney says the story of a woman robbed by two men in a black van, near Shevlin Park, never happened.
In a Facebook post that went viral last month, a woman describes the ordeal, saying her mother was driving alone when she thought she hit a dog. She got out of the car and realized it was a stuffed animal just as two men jumped out with knives, slammed her against her car and took $4,000 from her purse before driving off in a black van.
D.A. John Hummel says 57-year-old Debra Connors made up the story and her daughter had no idea she was spreading the lie, "The daughter thought she was doing a service to the community, ‘hey everyone, look out for this van.’ And the mom didn’t know the daughter was posting it. And probably the mom was horrified when she found it the daughter did post it, but she didn’t stand up and tell her daughter it was false. And then, when the police came, she continued to lie to the police." Because police only began investigating the report after being tipped off to the online post, Hummel says Connors didn’t commit a crime. "She was sitting at home and the police reached out to her and then she lied to them. In Oregon, it’s not a crime just to lie to the police when they contact you and ask you questions."
She may not face charges, but Hummel hopes she will apologize for the wasting of resources, "She lied to her daughter, and they have to deal with that over the Christmas dinner table. But, you cannot lie to the police, particularly about a serious matter where you allege two people drew a knife; because, all hands are on deck. We had many Bend Police Detectives and officers working this case." He tells KBND News, "People always need to consider social media posts with a grain of salt. Just because someone says something, doesn’t mean it’s true. But, when the allegation is that there’s criminals who are pulling knives on people in the streets of Bend, that’s serious and law enforcement needs to investigate."
In 2015, Bend Police investigated a viral social media post about an alleged sexual assault on the River Trail, later determining it also wasn't true.