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Everyone is guilty of believing things that are to good to be true at one time or another. In hope of preventing one story floating around on the internet from doing that, we’re calling one story fake news.


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If you read a headline that says “Morgue Employee Cremated By Mistake While Taking A Nap,” you now know that it didn’t really happen.

A story appearing on the fake website abcnews-us.com claims that a 48-year-old man named Henri Paul Johnson, an employee at the Macomb County Medical Examiner’s Office in Michigan fells asleep on a stretcher after a grueling 16-hour shift and was incinerated to death by a co-worker.

abcnews-us.com/screenshot

The unnamed co-worker was said to have mistaken Johnson for a 52-year-old victim of a deadly car accident. The story made sure to note that Johnson was cremated in “temperatures ranging between 1400 to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit and reduced to ashes.”

A fake witness, Jenna Davis, gave a fake quote about the fake incident.

“At first, we didn’t understand where the sound was coming from. When we realised what was happening, it was too late. We shut down the heating system, but he was already dead,” she never said because she doesn’t exist.

The most ridiculous thing of all is that this all occurred because the supposed employee who made a critical error was new to the morgue business and just forgot to check for a toe tag.

Local news like WWJ took the time to contact relevant people at the Macomb County Medical Examiner’s Office and the prosecutor’s office. What they found was that phones were ringing off the hook and everyone calling was getting the same answer: “It’s fake news. Literally fake. Not a grain of truth.”

Denise Calhoun, a real employee, said that the medical examiner’s office doesn’t do cremations and that she was annoyed people would take the time to cook this whopper up.

“Why would they write this? I just wish someone had better things to do with their time,” she said.

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Upon further review, we found that this story has been fact-checked by Snopes, and they traced the origins of the post back to March 2017.

A fake news site known as World News Daily Report (WNDR) came up with the story. While the victim was also named Henri Paul Johnson, the accidental killing took place in Beaumont, Texas instead of Michigan.

The rest of the facts mirrored those that appeared abcnews-us.com, down to witness Jenna Davis and the temperatures of the incinerator.

A viral story about a napping morgue employee being cremated by mistake is not what it seems Photo by John Moore/Getty Images
Matt Naham About the author:
Matt Naham is the Weekend Editor  for Rare. Follow him on Twitter @matt_naham.
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