PALISADE, Colo. (KKCO) - Hundreds of Grand Valley residents were alarmed and confused this weekend by an anonymous text message claiming a child was missing and help was needed to find her.
But Palisade Police say it was all a hoax. The text message was sent by three girls who skipped school to party and didn't want to get in trouble.
Police say rather than telling their parents the truth, the girls sent out a text saying one of them had been abducted. That text reached hundreds of people in the Grand Valley and started a police investigation.
Sunday night, Brad Williams received a forwarded message from one of his co-workers. "It says 'Muranda was drugged and stolen last night in Palisade, Colorado. Please help her! Her dad is looking for her. His name is Randy. Pass this on to everyone you know,'" says Williams.
He and his friend weren't the only ones to get this text. "There were 800 forwards on it, so it's been around a while," he says. But instead of continuing the viscous cycle of forwarding an unknown text, Williams tried to verify it first.
"I went to see if there were any AMBER Alerts or if there were any missing persons up on a Web site and there weren't," says Williams.
The Mesa County Sheriff's Office says Williams did the right thing. "Law enforcement is not going to send a text message if there's been an abduction or missing kid or something like that," says Sheriff's Office Spokeswoman Heather Benjamin.
If there were an actual emergency, authorities say you would know about it through other avenues. "The reality is if there was a real abduction in this community, the law enforcement would be teaming up with local media and that information would be going out through a legitimate source very quickly," says Benjamin.
Palisade Police say the girl referenced in the text, Muranda, is safe at home. She was reported to the Mesa County Sheriff's Office as a runaway, but later located. Officials say there won't be any charges filed in the case because texting falsified information is not illegal.