VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. -- Detectives spent an entire day searching for a rape suspect who didn't exist and now the Volusia County Sheriff's Office is going to charge the 13-year-old girl who made up the story.
Deputies usually do not charge kids in these cases; it's handled on a case by case basis, but the case here was frustrating for deputies. They were out here in the middle of the night with helicopters and dog teams.
Based on the 911 call alone (hear it), the girl went to extreme lengths to get people to believe she was attacked."Did he say anything to her?" the 911 operator asked the alleged victim's mom.
"What did he say?" the teen's mom asked her while talking to 911.
"He said, 'Don't scream. If you scream, I'll hurt you more," the girl told her mom.
"He said, 'Don't scream. If you scream, I'll hurt you more,'" the girl's mom repeated to the 911 operator.
After that frantic call late Tuesday, 13 patrol cars, three investigators, three K-9 units, a crime scene tech and a helicopter descended on Deltona woods. The girl's father was out there too.
"Some guy just pulled in front of my house with a gun in his hand and said somebody raped his daughter?" a caller to 911 reported (hear call).
Investigators spent an entire night and day of investigating looking for a man with a knife
"Did he have any weapons?" the girl's mother asked her while talking to 911.
"Just a knife," the girl said, sobbing.
"A knife, he had a knife," the girl's mom told the dispatcher.
It turned out, nothing happened; the girl was with a neighbor boy down the street.
"We had an issue to where, what do you do? You just can't let it go," Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson told WFTV.
The sheriff's office decided to press misdemeanor charges against the girl for filing a false report.
They haven't calculated their costs, but said it took resources away from other calls.
The department has passed on charges before, including after a false abduction report weeks ago, but the key often is the child's reaction and, in this case, the sheriff said, there was no remorse at all.
"Did they learn anything from it? If the individual doesn't learn anything from it, are they going to do it again? Or are we going to have copycats because they see someone who got away with it?" Sheriff Johnson explained.
The girl even went as far as to look at a photo lineup. If she was an adult, it would be a year in jail, but teen court or a diversion program are more likely in this case. Her name is not being released.