No Cash, No Corpses for Made-up Mayor

Q: Did a Democratic mayor in Missouri have a storage locker holding cash and dead bodies?

A: No. The story is entirely made-up — the town it names doesn’t even exist.

FULL ANSWER

Missouri has more than 1,000 cities, towns and villages, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. None is called Goose Rapids.

But a story claiming that the mayor of this fictional town had been keeping a storage unit full of cash and dead bodies has been getting popular on Facebook. One user of the social media site commented: “This is crazy! And yet another Democrat with REAL skeletons in the closet! I couldn’t resist!

Other users flagged the story as potentially false. It is.

The story, which has a headline that says, “$ 4 Million And 2 Dead Bodies Found In Democrat Mayor’s Storage Unit,” claims that Mayor Stephen Foreman is now on the FBI’s most wanted list. However, no one by that name is actually on the list.

It also says that a surveillance camera at another storage facility caught Foreman carrying a bag that “could contain millions in $ 100 bills or bearer bonds.” But the picture that is shown in that section of the story is actually a still from a surveillance video in the Banner Thunderbird Medical Center in Glendale, Arizona, showing Jason Matthew Bristol allegedly smuggling his 2-day-old daughter out of the hospital in a plastic shopping bag in 2015.

The main photo with the story is also unrelated to Missouri — it shows an FBI agent talking to an upstate New York sheriff’s officer at the start of a child abuse investigation in 2016.

The story originated on a site called Ladies of Liberty, which is part of a network of sites that describe themselves as satirical and have disclaimers that say, “Everything on this website is fiction.”

Another clue that the story isn’t true is the author’s bio, which says, “Loreli Eagleton is the wife of Flagg Eagleton. She is a stay-at-home Mom of 7 who loves to make sandwiches and does what she’s told — until she doesn’t!” The photo shown next to the bio is of a woman in lingerie wielding a pistol in each hand. It was actually taken by Peter Kim, a Vancouver-based photographer who creates stock images like that one.

Kim told us in an interview that his work is sometimes lifted from various websites where the images are for sale. “The ones with the guns seem to get stolen the most,” he said.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to help identify and label viral fake news stories flagged by readers on the social media network.

Sources

United States Census. Community Facts — Missouri. Accessed 3 Jan 2018.

$ 4 Million And 2 Dead Bodies Found In Democrat Mayor’s Storage Unit.” LadiesOfLiberty.net. 1 Jan 2018.

Federal Bureau of Investigation. Most Wanted. Accessed 3 Jan 2018.

Carlson, Adam. “Father Smuggles Infant Daughter Out of Hospital in Plastic Bag to Avoid Losing Custody, Cops Say.” azcentral.com. 14 Mar 2015.

McKenna, Chris. “FBI launches child-abuse investigation at Kiryas Joel.” Times Herald-Record. 12 May 2016.

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False

“$ 4 million and 2 dead bodies found in Democrat mayor’s storage unit.”

Monday, January 1, 2018

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