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Georgia Carjacking, Rape Blamed on Hurricane Katrina Evacuee
Netlore Archive:  Forwarded email claims there are 4,500 registered sex offenders among the Hurricane Katrina evacuees from New Orleans and blames a carjacking and rape committed in Acworth, Georgia on one of them

Description:  Email rumor
Circulating since:  Sep 2005
Status:  Partly true
Analysis:  See below

Email example contributed by Diane H., 15 September 2005:

Some of you may have seen the news yesterday where a woman was carjacked at Cobb Parkway and Highway 92 (Acworth). While fleeing, the carjacker crashed into a cement truck and the victim was killed instantly. (She was 30 yrs.old and a mother of two small toddlers) As the carjacker was fleeing, (with a gun) a citizen shot and killed him! (thankfully). The police think this is the same man who raped a woman last weekend, (school teacher 2 months away from retirement), took her to her bank and had her! clean out her ATM, and then stabbed her! (thankfully she did not die). The police also think this man is from New Orleans.

Today here at the office we had a patient who came in who is a 9-1-1 operator. She said that calls are coming in like crazy over the past 2 weeks with carjackings! (right around the time we have had this influx of new residents!)

You won't hear this on the news as the media will not let this out.... But I did hear on Fox News this morning that there are 4,500 sex offenders that were let out of prison in New Orleans that have NOT re-registered! All the communities who have taken in these folks are now at risk.

The purpose of this email is to put all of you on ALERT! Lock your car doors the minute you get in. Keep your homes locked. This is not the same community we had 2 weeks ago. Hopefully things will get back to normal but be AWARE!

Please let others know about this, as I would feel horrible if something happened to one of my friends or family members and I had this! knowledge.

Be Safe!

Comments:  This text contains multiple allegations, some true and some false, so let's sort them out one by one:

  • TRUE: A carjacking was committed in Acworth, Georgia recently which resulted in the death of the victim in a head-on collision and the fatal shooting of the carjacker by a bystander.
    According to news reports, 30-year-old Kimberly Boyd was carjacked at gunpoint by Brian O'Neil Clark on September 12, 2005 and died when Clark crashed the stolen vehicle head-on into a cement truck. As Clark tried to flee the scene of the accident, he was shot dead by a bystander. More...
  • TRUE: Police think the same man committed a rape the week before.
    Clark, a convicted sex offender, is also suspected of committing a rape in Acworth on September 6.
  • FALSE: Police also think this man is from New Orleans.
    Authorities may have initially suspected that the perpetrator was a Katrina evacuee because he reportedly claimed to be one when he approached the rape victim on her front porch on September 6. But it was quickly established when Brian O'Neil Clark was identified that he was a longtime Georgia resident with a criminal record going back several years in Cobb and Cherokee Counties. More...
  • FALSE: There has been a sudden increase in reported carjackings in the area over the past two weeks.
    Based on a search of current news reports, the Kimberly Boyd incident was the first and only carjacking reported in or around Acworth, Georgia since the end of August.
  • TRUE: Among the Hurricane Katrina evacuees from New Orleans taking shelter in other communities are 4,500 sex offenders.
    The Louisiana Deparment of Corrections has confirmed that there were over 4,500 registered sex offenders residing in the parishes affected by Hurricane Katrina, and officials assume most have relocated, in some cases to other states. More...
  • FALSE: You won't hear this on the news, as the media will not let it out.
    It was reported by virtually every major newspaper, TV network and wire service on September 9, 2005. More...
Legitimate Concerns vs. False Perceptions

At the same time that it raises legitimate concerns, this shrill warning echoes fears running rampant in other communities coping with an influx of Hurricane Katrina evacuees, fears exaggerated by the false perception that wherever New Orleans refugees have settled, crime is on the increase.

In Baton Rouge, for example: "After Katrina," reports the Baltimore Sun, "word spread through Baton Rouge that the city was experiencing an upsurge in looting and violent crime, although the rumors proved to be false. City officials say its crime rate is unchanged."

Ditto, Houston: "Dealing with the influx of Katrina evacuees has been expensive — more than $1 million in police overtime alone," says the Houston Chronicle, "but hasn't caused spikes in local crime or illness, Houston's fire and police chiefs said Monday [Sept. 12]."

Are there criminals to be found among the hundreds of thousands of evacuees left homeless by Katrina? Without question. Is this reason for concern in the communities now sheltering them? Of course. But we must also be concerned about rumormongers spreading prejudice and fear based on half-truths and false perceptions. Despite New Orleans' longstanding reputation as a crime-ridden city, however well-earned, the vast majority of its citizens were — and are — decent, lawbiding folks.

So, yes, where there's reason for concern, be on the lookout for crime; it's only prudent. But be on the lookout for lies, too.

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Sources and further reading:

Registered Sex Offenders Among Katrina Evacuees
Associated Press, 9 September 2005

Assailant Claimed to Be Storm Evacuee
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 6 September 2005

Two Killed in Collision and Shooting
Associated Press, 12 September 2005

Slain Carjacking Suspect Was Convicted Sex Offender
Associated Press, 14 September 2005

Influx of Evacuees Raises Tensions in Baton Rouge
Baltimore Sun, 15 September, 2005

Questions Arise About Movement of Evacuees out of Louisiana

FBI Warns of Gangs Transplanted from N.O.
Click2Houston.com, 14 September 2005

Crime Rate Stays Level, but Police OT Soaring
Houston Chronicle, 13 September 2005 Sheriffs Agree: Evacuee Crime Claims Are Unfounded
Tahlequah Daily Press (Oklahoma), 15 September 2005

True Crime
Baton Rouge Business Report, 13 September 2005

Last updated: 09/15/05

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