Photo of Jennifer Kesse, one of the victims "catchmekiller" claims to have killed.
(CBS/The Early Show)
ATLANTA (CBS/AP) Online he was the "catchmekiller" who claimed to have 16 victims. But authorities say the YouTube video posted by Andrew Scott Haley, 26, of Gainesville, was a hoax, and he's been indicted by a northeast Georgia grand jury for allegedly disrupting investigations into the disappearance of two women.
Haley was charged Tuesday in Hall County with evidence tampering and making false statements, the district attorney's office said.
In the video that appeared on YouTube in February, a man whose face was digitally obscured claimed to have killed 16 people and threatened to kill one more, said Gary Rothwell, a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent.
Georgia state laws do not specifically address Internet hoaxes. District Attorney Lee Darragh would not explain the charges because the case is pending but said they "do address the situation involved in this case."
He said a warrant had been issued for Haley, who was not in custody Wednesday. In a telephone call to a number listed for him, a woman who identified herself as his mother-in-law said Haley was working and not available to comment.
The woman, who declined to give her name, said the investigation into what started out as a game was "absolutely childish" and "a waste of taxpayer money." She said Haley could have explained that the video wasn't meant to harm anyone.
To Drew Kesse of Bradenton, Fla., whose daughter Jennifer has been missing more than three years from her home in Orlando, it was very personal. A link to the "catchmekiller" video on YouTube was posted on a Web site devoted to the search for Jennifer Kesse.
February 2009 video courtesy of My Fox Orlando.
Her father said Wednesday he was skeptical about the claims made by "catchmekiller" from the time he first discovered the video in February, but that didn't make the prank less painful.
"Absolutely, hands down, not even a question of a doubt, he should be prosecuted," he said. "You can't screw with people's lives."
Kesse and a friend asked the person who posted the video if he knew anything about Jennifer, Kesse said. He said they received messages online implying the person did, and that prompted him to contact police in Orlando.
Florida authorities contacted the Georgia Bureau of Investigation because, in the video, the "catchmekiller" claimed to have evidence in the Oct. 25, 2005, disappearance of Tara Grinstead, a 30-year-old teacher and former beauty queen from Ocilla, Ga.
Rothwell, whose territory includes Ocilla, said the man in the video took credit for Grinstead's disappearance and "indicated that if people played along on the Internet they ultimately would learn his identity."
Rothwell said authorities had no choice but to follow up and identify him. Officials from several agencies were able to track down what computer the video was posted from. The computer was seized soon after, he said.
He declined to speculate on a motive, but said "people do this sort of thing for their own amusement sometimes."
Rothwell said the hoax wasted hundreds of hours and tens of thousands of dollars.
Haley's mother-in-law said the GBI was to blame for that.
"Kids make mistakes every day. People get on You Tube and cell phones and do things. That doesn't mean they set out to harm anybody," she said.
In 2008, 48 Hours | Mystery investigated the disappearances of Jennifer Kesse and Tara Grinstead.
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