Two white South Carolina elementary students tried to blame a non-existent black male abductor after they were caught playing hooky from school.
The 10-year-old and 7-year-old from the town of Fort Mill had initially told police that, "Somebody tried to get us."
“This man came out, he had a pair of pliers that had knives in them,” the 10-year-old said according to the (Rock Hill) Herald. “Then he said, ‘Hello’ and ‘Get over here.’”
The Charlotte Observer's Andrew Dys writes that a York County police report issued a statement in which the kids identified their alleged, would-be kidnapper as a black male.
But after conducting an investigation, county officials determined that the two boys had made the story up as a cover for skipping school, the Herald said. The knife-like object the boys said they were threatened with turned out to be a leatherman device the kids had found earlier, police said.
The county has decided not to file any charges. The 10-year-old's mother said he had been punished.
“It’s just a lot to take in right now… and trying to be a mom,” Terrie Ruff said according to the Herald. “My nerves are stretched. I don’t really want to talk about it.”
Dys says this is not the first time a non-existent black man has been blamed in South Carolina for crimes committed by others, recounting three incidents in the past few decades. Most recently, he writes, the girlfriend of Melvin Roberts, the former mayor of York, S.C., tried to blame a black man for strangling Roberts in 2009—before she was found guilty of killing him.
"In South Carolina, to try to get out of something, people blame the race that endured slavery, segregation, Jim Crow, racial hatred, inequality, racial profiling, and many times, murder," he writes.
"Because of the color of the skin they were born with."
Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.