A 37-year-old North Carolina woman was arrested for allegedly faking her own murder.
Margaret Frances Elizabeth Sweeney was reported missing on 18 August, prompting Franklin Police Department to begin an “immediate investigation due to the information provided which alluded that Sweeney was endangered or deceased,” according to a statement from officials.
The Franklin police even posted on Facebook on the day she was allegedly reported missing describing Ms Sweeney, and marking her as a missing person, asking the public for help finding her.
Ms Sweeney was found “safe” the next day in the neighbouring town. Police determined that Ms Sweeney “allegedly made anonymous third-party false reports to a friend, and the Department of Social Services that she had been murdered,” the statement said.
Police said Ms Sweeney was arrested on three charges: causing a false report to a police station, falsely reporting death by telephonic communication and obstructing law enforcement officers.
“Sweeney’s actions caused our department, as well as other departments, many hours of work which could have been spent on other matters,” the statement said, adding, “Family, friends, and the community as a whole were also very concerned and worried about Sweeney’s welfare.”
Ms Sweeney’s fabricated story comes shortly after a series of similar incidents.
Carlee Russell faked her own kidnapping last month, sparking an investigation that lasted days.
The 25-year-old Alabama woman “disappeared” on the evening of 13 July after calling 911 claiming she tried to help a toddler who she spotted walking alone along the highway. Two days later, she reappeared at home, with a tall tale of how she had been kidnapped and barely managed to escape.
Police later said they were unable to verify many of Ms Russell’s claims and emphasised her internet history, which included searches for Amber Alerts and the movie Taken.
Ms Russell was arrested two weeks later “for her actions related to faking her kidnapping and subsequently making false statements to detectives.”
Also last month, an 11-year-old Florida girl was arrested after making a false report that her friend was kidnapped, after she texted 911 that her 14-year-old friend had been abducted by an armed man who was driving a white van.
The girl told the police that she got the idea to prank 911 through a YouTube challenge and thought it “would be funny.”