|Suspicious Parallels - Is It a Hoax?|
Our friend and correspondent Michael E. Brooks recently slid the C.J. Mineo letter under his microscope and discovered some interesting comparisons with another missing child alert dating back to 1999.
After reading your recent article and reader responses regarding the "Christopher John Mineo, Jr." missing child alert, I am willing to acknowledge that the recently-circulating alert may have been an "after-the-fact" hoax; i.e., the kid may have indeed gone missing in 1998, been recovered, and then someone else years later created a hoax alert. While little "CJ" possibly did go missing in 1998, here are reasons why I believe that the currently circulating alert is indeed a hoax.
External evidence: There has never been to anyone's knowledge a missing child by the name of Christopher John Mineo, Jr., reported to the FBI, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, or any other organization that tracks and reports missing children.
Internal evidence: After recently having received and debunked another "CJ Mineo" alert, I realized that it seemed that I had read it before. Upon reflection, I realized that the currently circulating alert is an almost word-for-word rehash of the Kelsey Brooke Jones alert from 1999.
- The opening sentence:
KBJ: "I am asking you all, begging you to please forward this email on to anyone and everyone."
CJM: "I am asking you all, begging you to please, forward this email on to anyone and everyone you know, PLEASE."
With the exception of a single comma, the first seventeen words of each alert are word-for-word identical to one another, with the CJM alert adding "you know, PLEASE" to the end of the sentence.
- The second sentence:
KBJ: "I have a 5 year old daughter named Kelsey Brooke Jones."
CJM: "I have a 5 year old son named Christopher John Mineo Jr. nickname C.J."
With the exception of the child's gender and name and the additional reference to the boy's nickname, the second sentences of both alerts are declarative statements regarding the 5-year-old missing child and which are structurally identical to one another.
- The third sentence:
KBJ: "We are from Southern Minnesota."
CJM: "I am from Brooklyn N.Y."
Aside from the differences in locale and the switch from a plural to a singular subject, the third sentences of both alerts are structurally identical.
- The fourth sentence:
KBJ: "She has been missing since 4pm Oct.11, 1999 [2000 in a later variant]."
CJM: "He has been missing since november of 98 [May 11,2001 in a later variant]."
The fourth sentences of both messages, like the preceding sentences, are structurally identical to one another, aside from the child's gender and alleged date of the child's having gone missing. Both messages have experienced alterations in the text with the passage of time at this point, with the KBJ message being altered to say that she went missing in 2000 instead of 1999 and the CJM message being altered to say that he went missing on May 11, 2001, instead of November 1998. Given the aforementioned similarities between the two messages up to this point, the fact that the altered version of the CJM message says that the boy went missing on the eleventh of the month, just as do both versions of the KBJ message say that the girl went missing on the eleventh of the month, is possibly significant.
- From here the messages diverge in their content, but not completely:
KBJ: "The police were notified shortly after. If anyone anywhere knows anything, sees anything, please contact the Police, a missing persons report has been filed."
CJM: "If anyone anywhere knows anything, sees anything, please contact the original screen name that sent this. Which is CMINEO0295@aol.com."
Ignoring the matter of the non-functioning e-mail address in the CJM message, both messages at this point contain the word-for-word identical phrase, "If anyone anywhere knows anything, sees anything, please contact the..." straight down to the punctuation. Apparently, CJM Sr. never bother calling the police or filing a missing persons report (which explains why there are no such reports).
- The messages then dovetail together again:
KBJ: "I am including a picture of her. All prayers are appreciated!!"
CJM: "I am including a picture of him. All prayers are appreciated!!"
Again, aside from the gender of the child, these two short sentences are word-for-word identical, straight down to the double exclamation points.
- This is followed by the only significant difference between the two
KBJ: "I hope I have covered enough East Coast, Midwest, and West Coast people to spread out the search for this little girl."
Unlike the KBJ message, the CJM message contains no such statement regarding how far the author expects that he has spread his appeal. Apparently, such a statement did not fit the CJM message's author's needs or intent. That, or he managed to skip the sentence accidentally, although I believe that that would be unlikely.
- Both messages then conclude identically:
KBJ: "It only takes 2 seconds to forward this on, if it was your child, you would want all the help you could get. Please."
CJM: "It only takes 2 seconds to forward this on, if it was your child, you would want all the help you could get. Please."
While little CJ may indeed have gone missing in 1998, the currently circulating appeal shows all the signs of an e-mail hoax, straight down to the utter lack of creativity and originality that its author used in crafting it, just as copycat "virus warning" hoax authors and "e-mail tracking" hoax authors usually substitute "new" information in the body of an earlier hoax to create new hoaxes.