DENISON, Texas - Police now believe a kidnapping and sexual assault case that rattled the small North Texas town of Denison earlier this month was a hoax.
Breana Harmon Talbott confessed to investigators Tuesday night and admitted she staged the attack. She also admitted the injuries to her body were self-inflicted, the Denison Police Department said.
Police say shortly after the 18-year-old turned up at a church cut and partially dressed, her story started to unravel. But not before it spun out of control on social media, sparking outrage and fear in the community.
The story made headlines after Talbott’s then-fiancé, Sam Hollingsworth, reported her missing on March 8. He told FOX 4 he asked a neighbor to check on her and that neighbor found her keys and a shoe on the ground outside her apartment.
Hollingsworth says he is now moving on after the terrible betrayal. He said he and Talbott had an argument the day she turned up at the church about the couple moving after he joined the army but can't explain why she'd allegedly stage a rape.
“I was hurt. It was hard to take in whenever I found out about everything,” he said. “Somebody that I actually trusted and was planning on spending the rest of my life with could do something like this to me and everybody else in this community.”
Police got involved with the search. Dogs and officer were out searching until someone from a nearby church called to report that a woman had disrupted their service to ask for help. She was wearing only her shirt, bra and underwear.
"She was in bad shape. She was bleeding. They had to bring some sheets to cover her up and try to calm her down," said Saul Marquez, the pastor of the New Creation Church. "As a church, we're here for a reason. It's a good thing she found some refuge here."
According to police, Talbott’s told witnesses at the church that she had been kidnapped and sexually assaulted in the woods behind the church. She told detectives three black males wearing ski masks had kidnapped her near her vehicle outside her apartment. She said they took her in a black SUV to a wooded area where one suspect held her down while the other two raped her.
“The case quickly gathered regional attention due to the severity of the alleged crime and rumors quickly begin to spin out of control through social media,” said Denison Police Chief Jay Burch. “Almost immediately, Talbott's story and allegations began to unravel. Within only a day or two, detectives had doubts as to most of Talbott's allegations.”
Police are now closing the case. They believe Talbott caused her own injuries and staged the whole incident. There was also no medical evidence of a sexual assault.
“This alleged crime as reported by Breana Harmon Talbott made many in the community fearful there were individuals abducting women,” Chief Burch said. “Even though we know the story to be a hoax, there is still potential damage to the reputation of the City of Denison and the Texoma region as many may remember the reported crime but not the outcome. That is unfortunate.”
The chief said Talbott’s made-up attack was insulting to the local community “and especially offensive to the African-American community due to her description of the so-called suspects in her hoax. The anger and hurts caused from such a hoax are difficult and all so unnecessary.”
Talbott is charged with filing a false report, a Class B misdemeanor. The police department will also seek restitution for the significant costs incurred during the investigation.