False reports or threats in connection to sightings of "creepy clowns" in the United States have led to arrests of 12 people in over 10 states, the New York Times reported Thursday. The trend of creepy clown sightings is also linked to at least one death, the report added.
Initial reports of people spotting clowns surfaced mid-August in South Carolina, where it was claimed that the costumed figures acted as bait to entice children into the woods. Since then, such clown sightings have spread to Alabama, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
The latest incident comes from Reading, Pennsylvania, where a 16-year-old boy was stabbed to death Sunday reportedly following a confrontation that may have been triggered by a person wearing a clown mask.
On Sep. 14, authorities at the Troup County Sheriff’s Office in LaGrange, Georgia — some 70 miles southwest of Atlanta — examined a report of clowns standing near a white van. A driver told the officials that the vehicle was stranded after running out of gas, however, the deputies did not find any costumes in or around the vehicle. The authorities then questioned Brandon J. Moody, 26, who alerted them about the sightings. He later confessed that he made up the story and told his sister-in-law to call 911 and report about seeing clowns. Both of them were charged with obstruction and unlawful conduct during a 911 call, the sheriff’s office said, in a statement at the time.
Separately, police in LaGrange said on Facebook that they issued warrants for four people after several messages on the social media site on Sep. 12 complained of people in clown costumes threatening to carry out violence at three schools. It remained unclear whether the arrests were made, the Times reported.
In Alabama, police reportedly took four people, including three minors, into custody for making terrorist threats at schools in Flomaton and Beauregard on Sep. 12 and Sep. 21, respectively. Two teens in Henrico County, Virginia, are facing charges for chasing children while donning clown masks Wednesday.
Four students aged between seven and nine from Maryland had complained to police about seeing clowns on their way home. Police questioned them on Sep. 20 where they found that the children’s accounts were baseless.