Fact check: False claim of serial killer targeting women in Seattle
The claim: A serial killer is targeting women in Seattle
A man was arrested on Oct. 15 in Stockton, California, on suspicion of being a serial killer that has been terrorizing the area for more than a year. Viral social media posts claim another serial killer is now loose on the West Coast, this time in Seattle.
"There appears to be an active serial killer is (sic) Seattle- this news hasnt' been made public on news outlets but sounds like it will soon," reads part of an Oct. 15 Instagram post that has received more than 13,000 likes in five days.
"3 women in their 30's who were out with friends have been found murdered, their bodies discovered south of SODO and posed the exact same ways," reads another portion of the post. SoDo is a reference to a Seattle neighborhood that lies south of its downtown.
Other versions of the claim spread widely across social media platforms.
But the claims are baseless. A woman's body was found in the area on Oct. 4, but it is the only homicide case officials are seeking tips on. Both the police and sheriff's offices said there are no serial killings investigations in Seattle.
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USA TODAY reached out to users who shared the claim for comment.
Sheriff's office only seeking tips in one Seattle homicide case
The King County Sheriff’s Office said posts suggesting a link among death investigations in the area are “unsubstantiated.”
“At this time, the Sheriff’s Office has identified no evidence affirming this for any cases under our jurisdiction,” spokesperson Manny Apostol Jr. told USA TODAY, echoing a statement the office issued on Oct. 16.
A woman’s body was found along State Route 509 near the First Avenue South Bridge, in the area of the SoDo neighborhood on the morning of Oct. 7, as reported by KIRO 7 News. Apostol did not indicate how many total homicide cases the office is investigating but said that case is the “only incident we are seeking tips on.”
The Seattle Police Department also said it “does *not* have any serial cases” in response to similar claims spreading on Twitter on Oct. 15.
Fact check: False claim of man allegedly terrorizing several towns
The Associated Press, as well as local broadcast stations including KHQ-TV and FOX 13 News, also reported on the dispelled social media claims.
The Seattle-based posts are the latest in a series of recent posts debunked by USA TODAY about purported serial killers targeting communities around the country.
Our rating: False
Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that a serial killer is targeting women in Seattle. A woman's body was found in the area on Oct. 4, but it is the only homicide case officials are seeking tips on. Both the police and sheriff's offices said there are no serial killings investigations in Seattle.
Our fact-check sources:
Manny Apostol Jr., Oct 17, Email to USA TODAY
The Associated Press, Oct. 17, No suspected serial killer in Seattle, despite online rumor
FOX 13 News, Oct. 16, Authorities deny rumors of serial killer in Seattle area
KHQ-TV, Oct. 17, Police: No suspected serial killer in King County
King County Sheriff's Office, Oct. 16, Facebook post
Seattle Police Department, Oct. 15, Tweet
USA TODAY, Oct. 11, Fact check: False claim of serial killer stabbing victims in Missoula, Montana
KIRO 7 News, Oct. 10, Woman found dead along SR 509 near Burien
USA TODAY, Sept. 28, Fact check: False claim of a serial killer targeting women in Huntington, West Virginia
USA TODAY, Aug. 19, Fact check: False claims of serial killer ‘currently hunting’ in many different communities
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: False claim of serial killer targeting women in Seattle