Fact check: No evidence of serial killer in Hot Springs, Arkansas, authorities say
The claim: There is an active serial killer in Hot Springs, Arkansas
Viral posts on social media are warning of a purported serial killer in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
“ATTENTION Be on high alert in HOT SPRINGS, AR, and surrounding areas,” reads a widely shared April 12 Facebook image. “Five bodies have been discovered since March, each dismembered and left in secluded areas in local Arkansas.”
Another user wrote on April 12, “Dang! There’s a serial killer running loose between Hot Springs and LR. Y’all carry your weapons. Arkansas911news said the bodies were dismembered and chopped up. 5 dead bodies so far is what they’re saying.”
Similar versions of the claim have recently been shared across Facebook, with many users citing Arkansas 911 News as their source.
In a statement to USA TODAY, Arkansas 911 News chief editor Paul Maddox said the site never mentioned that there was a serial killer running loose in Hot Springs.
Maddox said that in an article that was removed because of a computer glitch, Arkansas 911 News reported that it was not able to verify that five women were murdered or that a serial killer was found. He referenced a YouTube and Facebook video.
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USA TODAY reached out the Facebook users for comment.
Isolated incident at Hot Springs National Park
There are no reports of an active serial killer and the misinformation started when the FBI and the National Park Service announced an investigation at Hot Springs National Park after a body was discovered in the woods.
USA TODAY contacted Hot Springs Police Department about the claim and was referred to the National Park Service.
National Park Service spokeswoman Alexandra Picavet directed USA TODAY to an April 13 press release that states special agents of the NPS Investigative Service Branch were seeking tips related to the homicide of 32-year-old Paige Autumn White.
Her remains were discovered off of Blacksnake Road on March 27, and the NPS is working with the FBI, Hot Springs Police Department, Arkansas State Police and Garland County Sheriff’s Department.
The Hot Springs police shared the NPS statement to its Facebook page and urged people to “please pay attention to the 2nd paragraph” which states that “there is no indication that this was other than an isolated incident.”
The press release and an April 13 statement from the FBI on the investigation make no mention of any additional bodies being discovered in the area.
Reports from local news sites Arkansas Democrat Gazette and THV11 also do not state anything about a serial killer.
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Picavet told The Sentinel-Record that the FBI is working with local law enforcement because the investigation involves an incident on federal land.
Our rating: False
The claim that there is an active serial killer in Hot Springs, Arkansas, is FALSE, based on our research. There is an ongoing homicide investigation in Hot Springs involving a 32-year-old woman found dead on National Park Service land, but investigators state it is an isolated incident. The FBI is involved in the investigation because the incident took place on federal land.
Our fact-check sources:
- National Park Service, April 13, “National Park Service seeks tips from the public to aid homicide investigation in Hot Springs National Park”
- FBI, April 13, “National Park Service and FBI Seek Information Regarding Hot Springs national Park Homicide Investigation”
- Arkansas Democrat Gazette, April 13, “Woman found dead in Hot Springs National Park; death investigated as homicide”
- THV11, April 13, “Police investigating after woman’s remains found at Hot Springs National Park”
- Hot Springs Police Department, April 13, Facebook post
- Alexandra Picavet, April 15, email
- Omar Cervantes, April 15, phone call
- The Sentinel-Record, March 29, “Investigation by FBI, NPS closes part of Blacksnake Sunday”
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