SANDUSKY, Ohio – In a case that could be described as Dumb and Dumber Stage Murder as Hoax, no one is laughing.
A realistic murder ruse lands a couple in hot water with police. The Sandusky couple is in trouble after they staged a homicide scene as a practical joke on friends, police say.
It happened Thursday night, just before 10 p.m., at a home in the 600 block of Meigs Street, reported Fox 8 News.
Stage murder: Take one
Micah Risner, 29, and Nataleigh Schlette, 25, (both pictured) are accused of sending a photo on Facebook Messenger, depicting Schlette as the victim of homicide. Apparently the photo of Schlette sprawled out in a bathtub with ketchup strewn about her body appeared pretty realistic to the recipients.
Along with the staged crime scene photo was text that read, “Please help me. I really didn’t mean to. I don’t remember. We was arguing and I woke up to this.
No one is laughing
Several concerned friends called police, not knowing it was a hoax
A distraught female recipient of the message was one in particular who thought she was reporting a heinous crime. She appeared to be crying as she explained to a dispatcher what she believed to be a murder.
“He said he snapped,” she relayed. “And he said he blacked out, and that’s what he came to.”
The caller was referring to a graphic scene, albeit staged, of what appears to be a woman dead in a bathtub.
Fox 8 reported that Sandusky police sent every available unit to the location upon hearing reports that a homicide had occurred in the home.
Once officers arrived, however, they determined the home’s residents, Schlette and Risner, had faked a death.
Chief John Orzech said he spoke with a few officers after the incident. He said they were upset about the ploy because as an officer, you don’t know what you’re about to encounter as your enter a scene like this.
“All the other areas of the city essentially left unprotected at that moment,” Orzech told News 5 during a Friday afternoon interview.
The point of the hoax, Orzech said, citing Risner: “Was a ploy to get a sister home who they thought had stolen money from them,” he said.
Reporters chime in
Dave Nethers, a reporter for Fox 8 offered a worthwhile admonition as he concluded his report. “If you share something on social media as though it were real, the police will treat it as if it is.”
News 5 went to the Meigs Street home, to see if the couple wanted to share their side of the story. There was no answer.
Tara Molina is a reporter for News 5. Risner responded to her interview request via text “What do I get out of it? I don’t talk for free. I ain’t worthless. And telling my side could get me convicted. So what you wanna do Tara?”
Both Schlette and Risner are charged with inducing panic. They pleaded not guilty at their hearing Friday.
Police said additional charges could be filed.
(Photos courtesy Erie County Sheriff’s Office)