A 15-year-old girl who went missing in Wisconsin in 2009 became the center of a social media controversy this week after Reddit users claimed they had found a YouTube video of a young woman bound and gagged on the floor that could help police solve the seven-year-old cold case.
Detectives in Antigo, Wisconsin, looked into the tape after Reddit users this week linked it to the disappearance of Kayla Berg, who went missing while going to her boyfriend’s house in Wausau, Wisconsin. The YouTube video posted two months after she went missing shows a man opening a basement door to reveal the bound woman.
"I met the most wonderful girl,” the man who calls himself "Patrick" says in the video. "I know she hates cameras, but I'm going to show you her, anyway."
"Why are you doing this?" the woman screams in the video.
AntigoPolice Chief Eric Roller told PEOPLE magazine investigators were trying to determine whether the video was authentic. "I’m thinking it could be a bad joke, but we want to know for sure," he said.
The identities of the people in the video was not immediately known to authorities. "The video is pretty disturbing," Roller said, adding his department "just became aware of the video over the weekend."
Antigo police posted on Facebook Monday: "The Antigo Police Department has recently been made of a YouTube video titled: Hi Walter It's Me Patrick Video- I have a new girlfriend. This video was originally posted in October 2009, but has recently gone viral and many believe it is connected to our missing person Kayla Berg. The Antigo Police Department is actively investigating the origin of this video. If anyone has particular information as to the origin of the video or the identity of the individuals in the video please contact the Antigo Police Department."
The video titled "Hi Walter! I got a new gf today!" was posted on Oct. 11, 2009, but only became somewhat of an internet sensation in recent months, garnering more than half a million times and inspiring multiple videos and posts debating its authenticity. The man in the video says he meet his new girlfriend at the mall. Then it shows the young woman crying. The video was recently taken down for violating YouTube’s community guidelines.
"I don't see a second person in his glasses. I haven't been able to watch the video yet, I've seen stills. The ones I've seen show what looks his face reflected back. I get the impression he's using a webcam on a laptop for the video and what we see is the playback in his glasses," posted one Reddit user this week.
Another wrote: "I think the boyfriend is probably responsible for Kayla's death, not some random neckbeard maniac."
Kayla’s mother, Hope Sprenger, told one local TV station about the video: It "made me sick to my stomach." She also told officials the girl in the video looked like her missing daughter.
"When we told Kayla’s mother about the video, she was concerned about it and told us it could possibly be her daughter, because she can see and hear some similarities," Roller said. "We need to see if there’s something to this video. If it is not Kayla, it could be someone else."
Police have asked anyone with information about the YouTube video or Berg's disappearance to come forward.
"Hopefully, someone recognizes [the man] from the video and says, ‘Hey, it’s this guy,’" Roller said. "I’m thinking someone should be able to identify him. If we find him and he says the video was a hoax, and he can show us the female who was in the video and she’s fine, then we can resolve this. If it is a hoax, we can move on."