The claim: There is an active serial killer in Hot Springs, Arkansas
Viral posts on social media warn of a purported serial killer in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
"ATTENTION Be on high alert in HOT SPRINGS, AR, and surrounding areas," reads a widely shared Facebook image posted April 12. "Five bodies have been discovered since March, each dismembered and left in secluded areas in local Arkansas."
Another user wrote April 12, "Dang! There’s a serial killer running loose between Hot Springs and LR. Y’all carry your weapons. Arkansas911news said the bodies were dismembered and chopped up. 5 dead bodies so far is what they’re saying."
In a statement to USA TODAY, Arkansas 911 News chief editor Paul Maddox said the site never mentioned that there was a serial killer running loose in Hot Springs.
Maddox said that in an article that was removed because of a computer glitch, Arkansas 911 News reported that it was not able to verify that five women were murdered or that a serial killer was found. He referenced a YouTube and Facebook video.
USA TODAY was unable to reach the Facebook users for comment.
Isolated incident at Hot Springs National Park
There are no reports of an active serial killer, and the misinformation started when the FBI and the National Park Service announced an investigation at Hot Springs National Park after a body was discovered in the woods.
USA TODAY contacted the Hot Springs Police Department about the claim and was referred to the National Park Service.
National Park Service spokeswoman Alexandra Picavet directed USA TODAY to an April 13 news release that says special agents of the NPS Investigative Service Branch sought tips related to the homicide of Paige Autumn White, 32.
Her remains were discovered off Blacksnake Road on March 27, and the NPS is working with the FBI, Hot Springs Police Department, Arkansas State Police and Garland County Sheriff’s Department.
Hot Springs police shared the NPS statement to its Facebook page and urged people to "please pay attention to the 2nd paragraph" which says "there is no indication that this was other than an isolated incident."
The news release and an April 13 statement from the FBI on the investigation make no mention of any additional bodies discovered in the area.
Reports from news sites Arkansas Democrat Gazette and THV11 do not say anything about a serial killer.
Picavet told The Sentinel-Record that the FBI is working with local law enforcement because the investigation involves an incident on federal land.
Our rating: False
The claim that there is an active serial killer in Hot Springs, Arkansas, is FALSE, based on our research. There is a homicide investigation in Hot Springs involving a 32-year-old woman found dead on National Park Service land, but investigators said it is an isolated incident. The FBI is involved in the investigation because the incident took place on federal land.
Our fact-check sources:
National Park Service, April 13, "National Park Service seeks tips from the public to aid homicide investigation in Hot Springs National Park"
Arkansas Democrat Gazette, April 13, "Woman found dead in Hot Springs National Park; death investigated as homicide"
Hot Springs Police Department, April 13, Facebook post
Alexandra Picavet, April 15, email
Omar Cervantes, April 15, phone call
The Sentinel-Record, March 29, "Investigation by FBI, NPS closes part of Blacksnake Sunday"
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: No evidence of serial killer in Hot Springs, Arkansas