Friday, July 30, 2010

What really happened in e-mail that's going around

A scary e-mail about an incident in Kansas City has been making the rounds the last few days that bears a striking similarity to a popular urban legend. However, I did want to let you know that this incident really did happen, but we want to clarify some of the more scary parts.

On Sunday, July 25, a 41-year-old woman called police and said she had been in a Quik Trip at about 9:30 a.m. in the 10200 block of Wornall when a man approached her and gave her a piece of paper with his first name and a phone number on it. She took the paper to be polite and drove away. As she drove away, she threw the paper out the window. Then she saw the same man who’d given her the paper following her. She began to feel ill and told police her heart rate increased, and she felt dizzy. She pulled off into a nearby McDonald’s parking lot and hurried inside. The man came in the restaurant and approached her. She said he told her, “Sorry, I never did ask if you were married.” She told him she had called police, and he fled in an unknown direction. The victim told officers she had no pre-existing medical conditions and did not take any medication. Police noticed she was agitated and fidgety. When paramedics arrived shortly thereafter, all of her vital signs were normal. She refused any medical treatment.

Later that day, the suspect walked in a hit-and-run accident report claiming an unknown white female had hit his car. He claimed he followed her to McDonald’s, but she refused to give him any information. He said he had given the woman his name and number on a piece of paper, and she’d fled. Detectives later determined no accident had taken place, and the man admitted he filed the report because he was scared the woman would report him to police. He said he thought she was cute and gave her his phone number. He has been charged in City Court with filing a false report.

Investigators watched surveillance video from the Quik Trip and the McDonald’s. They did see the suspect, 27-year-old Edward Blakley, in Quik Trip. The victim then entered and is seen leaving the store. Blakley is seen writing on a piece of paper and rushing out after her. Cameras there did not capture him handing her the paper outside. At McDonald’s, surveillance showed the victim enter in a rush, followed by Blakley. He leaves, then re-enters and approaches her. He appeared to place his hand in his pocket. The victim told police it seemed he was “touching himself.”

The e-mails going around say there was some kind of drug on the paper Blakley gave the victim. He denied it. The video of him at Quik Trip showed him touching the paper with no gloves on, and he had no ill effects. Police were unable to locate the discarded paper, and because the victim did not submit to medical tests, there is no way to determine if anything was on the paper that would have gotten into her bloodstream and made her sick. However, it is highly unlikely that such brief skin contact with any type of toxin could produce such a fast response. It’s more likely the victim suffered anxiety-related symptoms like a panic attack from the stress of the event, but there is no way to prove that.

The victim did the right thing by getting to a public place and calling police. In addition to charges of filing a false report, Blakley also faces a municipal charge of intimidation because of the incident. Here's his mug shot:

I wanted to get all the facts of this incident out to the public to quell the fears that often accompany scary, mass-circulating e-mails. It is highly, highly unlikely that there is a man out there handing pieces of paper to women that drug them and render them ill. As always, if you ever feel unsafe, however, please call 911.

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