Administrator of “Kensington Strangler” Facebook Page Threatened
The search for the Kensington Strangler took an odd and dangerous turn earlier this week when on Sunday, an anonymous “fan” of the Facebook group “Catch the Kensington Strangler before he catches someone you love” erroneously—and sources say, purposefully and maliciously—posted a photograph of a guy named Triz Jeffries on the group’s wall and claimed he was the Kensington Strangler.
At the same time, someone pulled up in a car and handed a batch of fliers with the same misinformation—including the guy’s address—over to the Guardian Angels, who unknowingly helped spread the false information around the neighborhood by handing out the fliers. Sources say text messages with the photo have also been circulating through cell phones of residents.
The frenzy almost ended with tragedy on Monday when an angry mob gathered outside the house Jeffries was staying in. Jeffries had to call police and request that they escort him out of the house.
Police interviewed and released Jeffries. He is not a suspect.
“The information we got from Jeffries was that it was obviously someone with an ax to grind but he couldn’t pinpoint who it was,” says Sgt. Ray Evers, spokesperson for the Philadelphia Police Department. No one is in custody, but Evers speculates that if and when the person spreading the false information is found, they could face charges of recklessly endangering another person if it is discovered they knowingly spread the false information.
“It’s very unfortunate,” Evers says. “What if we didn’t get to this guy first … and he was just walking down the street? It could have been a whole different story.”
Now, 38-year-old Heather Barton, one of the Facebook fan page’s administrators, reports that she is the target of threats. Barton says she received a death threat online from someone claiming to be a relative of Jeffries.
“They put up on the page yesterday morning that they were going to kill us and how they were going to do it,” Barton says. “Right away we gave that info to the cops.”
But whoever posted the threat has since deleted it.
“It’s just crazy that everybody is assuming that because we run the page that we ran the picture,” Barton says. “At the time we created the page, no one suggested to disable the photo, we never even thought about it. We didn’t think there was going to be sick people out there [using the page] to throw other people under the bus.”
Barton and her co-administrator removed the photo as soon as they became aware of it. Then they disabled the photo feature. They even posted a warning not to believe everything that is posted on the page, which they established to serve as a community forum, not a tip line.
But by then, the photo of Jeffries already went viral. Many “fans” had even already loaded it as their profile picture.
Barton says the person who identified themselves as a family member of Jeffries’ wasn’t the only threats she received.
“Other people were making comments against us, basically saying you better watch out,” she says.
Sgt. Evers stresses to not listen to any information that is not official. “Everybody has to realize with social media there’s not vetting process, there’s no checks and balances.”