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How Stupid can you Be?
April 2, 2004 12:03 PM   Subscribe

Note to Self: What NOT to do when trying to fake your own kidnapping.....
posted by aacheson (63 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Wray cited inconsistencies in 20-year-old Audrey Seiler's story that led police to question her claim. For example, the honor student told told police that her captor used duct tape, rope, cold medicine, a gun and a knife to keep her under his control.

Although those items were found in the marsh where she was located, buttressing her account, police obtained videotape Thursday that showed Seiler entering a Madison store and buying those items, he said.


Heh. In all seriousness though, a very troubled young woman. When I first read reports of it yesterday, I couldn't believe the police had ever started to look for a suspect. The story was really full of holes from the start.
posted by rafter at 12:08 PM on April 2, 2004


She should have watched more CSI first.
posted by The God Complex at 12:14 PM on April 2, 2004


The question now is: will the cops decide to make an example of her? They could probably nail her for filing a false report, and possibly bill her for various overtime expenses & the like.
posted by aramaic at 12:17 PM on April 2, 2004


The Dude: I only said I THOUGHT she kidnapped herself. You're the one who's so fucking certain!
Walter Sobchak: That's right, Dude. 100% certain.
posted by mathowie at 12:21 PM on April 2, 2004


No, Mr. Lebowski, that had not occurred to us.
posted by squirrel at 12:28 PM on April 2, 2004


Maybe she'll feel some remorse after she sees The Passion.
posted by jeffmshaw at 12:28 PM on April 2, 2004


The sad thing is that now she's a national name and I'm sure she'll get asked to be on talk shows and whatever, setting the self kidnapping means to fame precedent.
posted by fenriq at 12:32 PM on April 2, 2004


That's great. Now every time I go into a local drug store and buy duct tape, rope, cold medicine, a gun and a knife they're going to think I'm trying to fake my own kidnapping. Thank you very much Audrey.
posted by daver at 12:34 PM on April 2, 2004


God. Here in Madison, this has been such a train-wreck. UW co-ed kidnaps herself, the local police force dramatically over-reacts (135 officers on the case!!!), and destroys the fragile traffic system of a city on an isthmus. They blocked off two major thoroughfares on one side of town.

The going scuttlebutt is that she ate some bad LSD. Or that she's completely crazy.
posted by rocketman at 12:36 PM on April 2, 2004


yeah -- bad LSD -- that always explains things. *rolls eyes*
posted by Satapher at 12:44 PM on April 2, 2004


You mean I can fake my own kidnapping and become famous? Thank you for showing me the way Audrey.
posted by drpartypoopercrankypantsesquire at 12:44 PM on April 2, 2004


The going scuttlebutt is that she ate some bad LSD. Or that she's completely crazy.

For some reason, the drug trip story just doesn't gel with all the thought that went into it (checking internet weather reports, buying duct tape). As for completely crazy, all I'm seeing is "cry for help." Munchausen, anyone?

What troubles me about this is that next time a girl goes missing in Madison, there will be those saying "*cough*AudreySeiler*cough*." Which isn't a good thing, police overkill or not.
posted by rafter at 12:44 PM on April 2, 2004


It's a stereotype that girls her age have this obsession with attention - that stereotype wouldn't exist if it weren't true at least some of the time, as in this case (internet camgirls come to mind, too).
posted by Ryvar at 12:54 PM on April 2, 2004


Which way is this going to fall? Is she going to be vilified or is Oprah going to be holding her hand on an episode about snapping under stress?
posted by pieoverdone at 12:56 PM on April 2, 2004


Has anyone counted her toes yet?
posted by trondant at 12:59 PM on April 2, 2004


I thought this was interesting. The last paragraph of the CNN article:
In February, Seiler told police she was attacked from behind and knocked unconscious while walking alone outside after midnight. She said she woke up behind a nearby building but wasn't robbed or otherwise hurt, police said. No one was arrested.
There's the implication by association that this might also have been faked, but I would think that after having been knocked unconscious she would have had a medical examination (checking for concussion, etc.), and the examining doctor would have some opinion on whether she actually had been knocked unconscious.

<wild speculation>maybe she actually was attacked in February and that's what made her think of faking a more dramatic event?</wild speculation>
posted by hattifattener at 1:00 PM on April 2, 2004


You will NOT disrespect internet camgirls, sir!
posted by squirrel at 1:00 PM on April 2, 2004


Makes me think twice about her being an honor student.
posted by invisible ink at 1:01 PM on April 2, 2004


A. The University of Wisconsin must have very low academic standards. Some honor student!?

B. This is one (of many) reasons why stories such as kidnappings of common people should never make the national news.
posted by mischief at 1:09 PM on April 2, 2004


OK, does the sketch of the "suspect" totally look like Ed Norton with Owen Wilson's nose?
posted by rschroed at 1:11 PM on April 2, 2004


That was my thought, mischief. When I saw the police response (the area they found her in is about a mile from where I work), my hunch was that they were showboating for the national media.
posted by rocketman at 1:11 PM on April 2, 2004


You will NOT disrespect internet camgirls, sir!

Why not?
posted by SpaceCadet at 1:12 PM on April 2, 2004


Fucking amateurs.
posted by David Dark at 1:14 PM on April 2, 2004


I'd hit it.
posted by vito90 at 1:24 PM on April 2, 2004


Spacecadet, because the Camgirls are already disrespecting themselves.

The news this morning didn't pussyfoot it at all, they called her earlier "attack" a lie as well and basically said the girl needs help.

Bad LSD wouldn't have made her do any of this stupidity and it certainly wouldn't have lasted four days.

On Preview: vito, thanks for reminding me of the other point I wanted to make. I wonder how much of a response she would have gotten if she'd been ugly?
posted by fenriq at 1:32 PM on April 2, 2004


OK, does the sketch of the "suspect" totally look like Ed Norton with Owen Wilson's nose?

I thought it looked like that Adam dork on Average Joe.

Not that I've ever watched that show...
posted by COBRA! at 1:32 PM on April 2, 2004


No shit. The misconceptions and faulty connotations that people have towards LSD and basically every drug are laughable.

Being stupid makes you do stupid things. Drugs dont put stupid in your head -- it was already there.
posted by Satapher at 1:39 PM on April 2, 2004


"...does the sketch of the "suspect" totally look like Ed Norton with Owen Wilson's nose?"

When it first showed up at the press conference, all four of my coworkers and I looked at each other and exclaimed "Bill Clinton?"

Seriously.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:55 PM on April 2, 2004


I lived in Madison for 6 years. If any town can make you crazy, it's that one. Hated the place!
If I were her parents, I'd be tempted to either strangle her myself or crawl in a hole or both.
posted by Sonserae at 2:01 PM on April 2, 2004


Satapher, Being stupid makes you do stupid things. Drugs dont put stupid in your head -- it was already there.

This is the best thing I have read in days, thanks!
posted by fenriq at 2:01 PM on April 2, 2004


How very Tawana Brawley-esque.
posted by naxosaxur at 2:10 PM on April 2, 2004


What a weird story. Does anyone remember any other similar tales of the girl/boy that cried wolf?
posted by agregoli at 2:11 PM on April 2, 2004


Bad LSD wouldn't have made her do any of this stupidity and it certainly wouldn't have lasted four days.

If it lasted four days it wouldn't be called "bad" LSD.
posted by Atom12 at 2:15 PM on April 2, 2004


agregoli: did you read my Tawana Brawley links?

"In 1987, a 15-year-old black girl named Tawana Brawley went missing and was found four days later covered in dog feces and with racial slurs written on her body. She claimed that at least two and possibly six white men, one of them carrying a badge, had repeatedly raped her in the woods in upstate New York."

It was a complete hoax, and the court dismissed the case.
posted by naxosaxur at 2:20 PM on April 2, 2004


Sorry, missed it.
posted by agregoli at 2:24 PM on April 2, 2004


In the Dallas/FortWorth area: this past March, there were 3 case that I recall that afterwards it was found to be hoaxes. Some trapping themselves in their car's trunk. Think this happens more than we think in our communities, but until making the headline news we know nothing.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:29 PM on April 2, 2004


agregoli, in this recent case, an innocent transient stewed in jail for 8 months after three 12-year-olds concocted a story about being assaulted by the man as an excuse for getting home late. When the truth came out the girls were led in handcuffs from school (as an example of how serious their accusations were). I think the 45-days-plus-community-service was deserved punishment regardless of the flimsiness of the investigation but, for his part, the man blames the local police.
posted by rafter at 2:47 PM on April 2, 2004


Spacecadet, because the Camgirls are already disrespecting themselves.

Right, so it's bad manners to disrespect people who disrespect themselves. I'm making notes. It's not easy living in the 21st century!
posted by SpaceCadet at 2:52 PM on April 2, 2004


Spacecadet, nah, its not bad manners, just overkill.
posted by fenriq at 3:03 PM on April 2, 2004


Wray cited inconsistencies in 20-year-old Audrey Seiler's story that led police to question her claim. For example, the honor student told told police that her captor used duct tape, rope, cold medicine, a gun and a knife to keep her under his control.

Although those items were found in the marsh where she was located, buttressing her account, police obtained videotape Thursday that showed Seiler entering a Madison store and buying those items, he said.


She could have put some poor innocent behind bars for 10 years. How many times has this happened where the scam worked? The police are all to happy to find some poor Joe who looks vaguely like the photofit.
posted by SpaceCadet at 3:03 PM on April 2, 2004


Spacecadet, nah, its not bad manners, just overkill.

OK, I'm making notes. I may or may not keep them.
posted by SpaceCadet at 3:04 PM on April 2, 2004


Tawana's case is interesting, indeed. CourtTV has has some good info related to the case, including transcripts of the phone calls that aided in the dismissal.
posted by bradth27 at 3:07 PM on April 2, 2004


In Santa Cruz, CA there was this case of an 11 year-old girl. Apparently, she wrote details of it in her diary, which of course the police ended up reading.
posted by invisible ink at 3:30 PM on April 2, 2004


SpaceCadet, set your phaser on "irony," if it has such a setting.
posted by squirrel at 4:18 PM on April 2, 2004


Just to make this clear: I, personally, do not believe this was a case of "Bad" LSD. I'm just reporting what "the locals" are saying.

My pet theory is schizophrenia.
posted by rocketman at 4:37 PM on April 2, 2004


Boy I bet her boyfriend/sorority sisters/parents will pay attention to her now! She showed them!

I never quite know how to feel about these things. On the one hand I pity them and feel sorrow, but on the other hand I desperately want to make fun of them and just laugh and laugh and laugh...
posted by Ynoxas at 5:33 PM on April 2, 2004


You know, I STILL hear peopel claim that Tawana was abducted and then forced to recant under pressure from the police force and other (white) pressure.

Never let the facts get in the way of a good victimization/conspiracy syndrome.
posted by soulhuntre at 7:11 PM on April 2, 2004


Happy ending may obscrue disturbing reality.

If you have children this age, a happy ending like this is about as satisfying as hitting the state lottery. But if this case goes south in the coming days, which is the politically correct way of saying that the high-profile abduction of the 20-year-old University of Wisconsin student from Minnesota is not what it appears to be, I and many other skeptics from here to Madison will take no congratulatory, backslapping solace. [Law-enforcement pros] know full well the political and social impact such cases can have on police forces, and society in general. After [a Fargo, ND] hoax [following the disappearance of Dru Sjodin] was uncovered, [the police chief] said, "the community was far more skeptical and unwilling to believe when another similar case was reported.''

In Madison, it's been noted that the massive police response cost at least $70,000 in overtime alone, not to mention items such as an Illinois police helicopter which flew in to assist. There is some pressure to charge this to the "victim" a la search-and-rescue for the terminally stupid.

We've heard of suicide by cop and Munchausen syndrome by internet, but it seems to me what we have here is something like Munchausen by cop; or essentially a slightly new variant of Factitious Disorder. Of course it's not really that new -- people have been playing up stories to cops (and spies) for years, sometimes for a dime, sometimes for their own ego. But rarely at this level. It's entirely possible that the prospect of national media attention is an integral component of its growing incidence. I really suspect that the diagnosis here is something closer to Borderline Personality Disorder. BPD patients crave chaos in their lives, it seems, and will spout any line if it gets them momentary attention. [I have begun to suspect such a diagnosis for a close relative.] I'm surprised nobody's mentioned it, yet, in this case. What's strange, of course, is that she was said to be the picture of a stable, Midwestern high-achieving girl, until the February "attack". I wonder, though, what might come out about her history now, as something like BPD bespeaks a long and sordid backstory.
posted by dhartung at 10:35 PM on April 2, 2004



Just to make this clear: I, personally, do not believe this was a case of "Bad" LSD. I'm just reporting what "the locals" are saying.

My pet theory is schizophrenia.


Note that these two things aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. I once dated a girl who turned out to be schizophrenic and she tripped on acid for 5 days from one dose, dilated pupils and all the whole time. When your brain chemistry is as messed up as a schizophrenic's, adding more powerful chemicals to that mix can have extreme consequences.
posted by TungstenChef at 10:50 PM on April 2, 2004


Munchausen by cop

What struck me about this story was that she was reported missing so soon. She was only gone for about twenty-four hours before the media started freaking out about how she was gone.

A couple of days ago - aeons by media coverage - my girlfriend and I had two theories:

1. she'd been in some frathouse football-player rape-dungeon

and

2. she made the whole thing up.

Number two seems to be what happened.

My personal theory is this:

The girl was reported as having disappeared because she wasn't answering her cell phone. Her parents reported her as missing because she wasn't answering her cell-phone. At some point, she got sick of having to answer her cell-phone, and she took off for a couple of days in order not to be answering her cell-phone.

Then, she got "found". She's just the very first of people reacting to the cell phone (where they can be located at any time, anywhere) and wanted to just get the fuck away from it all, but because of their cell phone could not.

Then, she got caught. And she had to make up a story - and a character - to explain why she was missing. This will happen again.
posted by interrobang at 12:27 AM on April 3, 2004


I can think of at least one very simple way to not freak out an entire city just because you don't want to answer your cellphone. It has two short steps: one, change your greeting to "Leave a message, I don't want to talk to anyone right now"; and two, turn the volume way down and hide it in a cupboard.

No kidnapping/fake story required. I doubt not wanting to answer your phone is a valid excuse, unless you're already a little screwed up.
posted by tracicle at 2:06 AM on April 3, 2004


You know what, this is a great example of why it shouldn't be national news every time some stupid rich white girl goes missing. Honestly, dozens of people go missing every day, and I'm tired of it only making CNN when they just happen to be pretty.
posted by dogmatic at 5:48 AM on April 3, 2004


They blocked off two major thoroughfares on one side of town.

Yes, and I got stuck in that crap traffic. From here on out, I dedicate my road rage to Audrey Seiler.

What really pisses me off is that she will not be the one suffering the real consequences of crying wolf. That person will be the next person who really is abducted in this town.
posted by kayjay at 9:24 AM on April 3, 2004


she took off for a couple of days in order not to be answering her cell-phone

Funny thing about that: you can turn off cell phones. When I had one, I did it all the time. If I was at dinner, the movies, visiting with a friend, or having intercourse, I would turn the damn thing off. Only a borderline personality would imagine that you have to be physically separate from a cell phone in order to not answer it.
posted by rocketman at 9:26 AM on April 3, 2004


My neighbor's son was shot to death about a year and a half ago. I've seen two detectives at my neighbor's home once. That's it.

It's not this girl's fault that the news media and cops totally freak out when she disappears for a few days. It's the fault of the cops, the media, and the folks who watch, listen, and read.
posted by rdr at 9:45 AM on April 3, 2004


What dogmatic said...this girl needs help, and wasn't helped by this becoming a national news story. There are actually real missing children and teens that could use our attention, but I guess they're not white and pretty.
posted by amberglow at 10:19 AM on April 3, 2004


Maybe all the overkill was a lame attempt to make up for previous police screw-ups. (A few years ago blind woman was raped, and then prosceuted for allegedly lying about it. The charges were dropped against her, but she hasn't really recieved a decent apology from police. Eventually, DNA evidence lead to the conviction of the rapist...even though the police detective testified as a frigging defence witness. *sigh*)
posted by kayjay at 11:37 AM on April 3, 2004


Odd, what struck me after reading this story in the paper was all the videotape the police had to rely on. Surveillance video showed her walking out of the apartment in sweats (contradicting her story) and store videotape showed her buying the cold medicine, duct tape, knife and rope. And the police checked her computer and found she had been researching Madison Parks and the weather forecast. Pretty soon Big Brother's eye will be on us all 24/7.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 12:04 PM on April 3, 2004


Okay, I know my theory sounds crazy, but think about this:

My girlfriend works somewhere where she interacts with the police regularly. She asked them last night if they had any inside-information.

One of them told her that the reason the police got so freaked out about this case after the girl had only been missing for 24 hours was that the parents were "breathing down the cops' necks" because she wasn't answering her phone.

Imagine if you had the kind of parents who would react to you not answering your phone for a day, parents who would force the police to act just because they hadn't heard from you for one day.

Obviously, the girl's fucked up if all she could think of was a fake-kidnapping, but I still think the story's just the first symptom - the first "hospital case" - of someone going nuts beause they could be found and talked to at all times because they carry a phone around.
posted by interrobang at 1:05 PM on April 3, 2004


Ah... Stupid fake kidnapping OR BEST APRIL FOOL'S PRANK EVAH?!
posted by Skwirl at 4:14 PM on April 3, 2004


Secret Life of Gravy, I had that same thought. What a coincidence that she was captured on so much video! No, wait... What a mathematical probability!

[Also: so we meet at last, Skwirl!]
posted by squirrel at 5:30 PM on April 4, 2004


The Dane County DA has decided to file charges.

Apparently this whole thing has to do with a fight she was having with her boyfriend, and needing to go pray about it.
posted by rocketman at 10:44 AM on April 14, 2004


Apparently this whole thing has to do with a fight she was having with her boyfriend, and needing to go pray about it.

I liked interrobang's cell phone theory better.
posted by eastlakestandard at 8:02 PM on April 15, 2004


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