Police say the Louisiana woman who gained national attention as the victim of what appeared to be a racist attack may have fabricated the story.
Sharmeka Moffitt claimed that three men wearing white hoods attacked her around 8 p.m. at Civitan Park in Winnsboro, La. She told emergency responders that she had been doused in lighter fluid and lit on fire. Officers found the letters "KKK," presumably referencing the Ku Klux Klan, written on the hood of her car in a paste-like substance.
On Tuesday, two days after officers began the investigation into the alleged attack of the 20-year-old woman, police reported that Moffitt had fabricated the story and that her wounds were self-inflicted, according to The Franklin Sun. Evidence gathered at the alleged crime scene indicted that Moffitt had set herself on fire and scrawled the racist words on her own car. Her fingerprints were found on the cigarette lighter and the lighter fluid, and female DNA was found in the toothpaste used to write the words "KKK" and "n---er" on Moffitt's Buick LaCross.
"There is more physical evidence along those lines that back this up," Winnsboro Police Chief Lester Thomas said during a press conference. "All of the evidence is pointing back to the victim inflicting this upon herself," Thomas added. "No evidence has shown any other person was involved."
Franklin Parish Sheriff Kevin Cobb said that all evidence pointed to Moffitt having lied about the events of the attack. “Basically we had to follow the facts,” Cobb said, according to The News Star. “This was a disturbing case for all involved. All indications show this was a self-inflicted situation.”
Moffitt suffered third-degree burns down her chest, on her arms and on one leg, her mother, Edna, told the media on Monday, according to WMBF News.
Investigators have been unable to interview the Louisiana woman because she remains in critical condition, the Associated Press reports.
On Tuesday, Cobb said that a lot of misinformation about the Moffitt case came from social media, according to KNOE. A Facebook page called "Prayers for Sharmeka Moffitt" currently has more than 49,000 likes.
The individual who set up the Facebook page posted a message Tuesday evening. "The SUPPORT and PRAYERS you have all given this girl have been TREMENDOUS, all of our hearts were in the right place. This was at the very least a great exercise in us all coming together. Hopefully if this IS a fabrication, Sharmeka Moffitt will formally apologize to all of us... when she is well," reads the post. "To think a young girl would even do this to herself is troubling in itself, we may have to still Pray for Her."
Louisiana police will hand the evidence over to the Franklin Parish Attorney's Office, who would file charges in Moffitt's case, WTVM reports.