Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Strange Case of Char Hardin

I'm proud to have Kristy Jett lend her fingers to the Impossible Funky blog. Here's a little piece she wrote that she's calling...

Charmageddon

I really had no idea who Char Hardin was before all of this. I mean I had heard of her, we had mutual friends, but I didn't know anything of her save for the fact that whenever her name was mentioned it was something drama related. A few weeks back my Facebook news feed was filled with statuses from friends about this harrowing event Char had allegedly been through. A few friends shared a status from Char's page. Immediately my bullshit senses starting tingling. I guess I should preface by saying that a couple years back I had a pathological liar as a roommate. He had a grandiose story for almost every event in his life however it turned out near everything he told me was a lie. Since then I'm extra weary when it comes to big stories, and I can tell you now I was right on target when it came to this Char thing.

Essentially the story that was shared was that Char had been attacked in the parking lot of a Best Buy at around 10am on a Saturday. The Saturday after Black Friday (11/30). She was attacked by eight people, beaten within an inch of her life and then left for dead in a dumpster behind the store. Somehow there were no witnesses and she wasn't found until a few hours later (around 3pm) by a Best Buy employee who was taking trash out.

Things get a bit hazy as the next part of her story explained that she woke up in a hospital and didn't know where she was so she hit the police officer who was stationed in her room. I don't mean to sound like a negative Nancy but the movies propagate that myth of police officers hovering by a victims bedside. It isn't really true to life. Then the story goes that she was airlifted to a private hospital, a mysterious benefactor keeping her location and welfare safe. It sounded like a pretty unlikely story unless you're one of those Harlequin romance novelists. Pure coincidence that Char is an aspiring novelist who has some fairly rudimentary excerpts from her work on her Facebook fan page.

After seeing a couple of updates on her personal Facebook page, allegedly written by her brother, I couldn't keep my suspicions to myself so I reached out to a few friends who also have no relationship with Char and I asked them if they thought I was crazy. I got a resounding chorus agreeing with what I was seeing. One friend suggested I call a tip into a local news station in New Orleans (where Char lives) and I realized that was the best way to get to the bottom of it. I had been Googling for attacks at Best Buy since I first read the story and nothing came up. If such a thing did happen on the busiest shopping weekend of the year it would have been headline news for at least 24 hours. You do not get attacked in broad daylight on Black Saturday and escape the limelight, even if authorities/news media didn't make her name public.

I sent a news tip email to one of the local news stations. I didn't hear anything at first, and then the mother-lode came in. Char/Char's brother/Char's mysterious benefactor posted an update on her blog explaining in great detail everything that happened to her.

On December 1st at 10 am Char left home to go shopping at Target and pick up her computer (fixed) at Best Buy. It was at 3pm an employee at Best Buy was dumping garbage when she discovered blood splatter on the dumpster and a smashed computer, smashed cell phone, and ripped sweater. She looked in the dumpster and saw a body. The body was transported to local hospital. Identified as Char. Her family are (sic) with her. She is being prepped to move to a new hospital location. The persons responsible for this act of violence are known and law enforcement are (sic) in process of seeking their whereabouts.

Char was able to write down who attacked her. She is disoriented at times and coherent at others. There are some complications but have been asked to withhold that information at this time. The family has posted on her facebook page. Family asked for no phone calls, her cell phone was destroyed. She cannot answer it or talk. Prayers and well wishes are welcome and appreciated. Her page will update as more information is released. Thank you for respecting family's wishes and they have been told of the prayers and well wishes posted on her page.

Friend of Char's
Garon

There were also two updates to this same post:

Updated 8pm Central

Char is being airlifted and transported to a new location. The Family are (sic) overwhelemed (sic) with phone calls. Please they appreciate the calls, but ask to keep phone lines open. Char's cell phone was destroyed. So if you have sent phone call or text, she cannot respond. Some people have her private number, it's not that the family doesn't care, just a lot going on right now. People have tweeted and facedbooked (sic) Char asking where they can send cards. You may send to her Char Hardin c/o 265 Hickory Street, Ponchatoula, LA.

At this time, the family wishes to thank you for all the live they see flooding her pages.

Justice is a work in progress. We have learned 1 of the 8 persons who was picked up beaten herself and missing two teeth and a lot of hair. Way to go Char.

My plane is taking off soon. So Rooster and Sarah will keep you all updated on facebook.

Garon

Updated 2:30 am Central

All 8 people involved in Char's attack are in custody. Friends of Char found where the final two were hiding and turned them into the authorities...after they had their heads shaved and their clothes taken. So two naked chicks are the final 2 to be picked up. Justice will take care of it from here on out, but some rednecks from Manchac dealt out some backwoods justice. ~ Rooster

I sent a follow up email to the news stations with the link. I got a response almost immediately from the newsroom reporter telling me that he was checking with the New Orleans Metro police as we typed, checking on the matter because he had heard nothing of this. Within ten minutes he wrote me telling me that neither the Metro New Orleans police nor the Sheriff's office had any such case. His exact words were, "Cops say it did not happen." I struck up a report with this reporter whose name was Ryan Naquin. He agreed with me that something sounded suspicious about this. He said aside from calling the local police he tried a number for Char and asked for comment but heard nothing. We emailed back and forth for a couple of hours and he kept coming back with little tidbits, most interestingly though was when he went to Twitter to reach out to Char. Another reporter from another news station has tweeted to her asking for info because she couldn't get any police station to confirm what Char claimed had happened.

Meanwhile Char had well-wishers all over her page and people boasting of her strength and courage. I was so shocked that people were falling for it. But I realized that people do inherently believe in the good in people. I mean, WHY would someone make up such a story anyways?

Ryan the reporter left a comment on Char's blog simply asking her to reach out to him to confirm her story. That's when all hell broke loose. That was Monday evening and within an hour of Ryan posting his comment there was a status on Char's Facebook page explaining that she is very angry because her Facebook page and blog were hacked and someone had written those stories in an attempt to harm her.

I have been hacked. And there are stories floating around that are not true. I have been loaned a laptop and I will broadcast from my show tonight and explain it all. I am sick, hurt and tired of speculations and the persons who hurt me had nothing to do with what has happened to my accounts. People pretending to be me and delving into my private emails and messages. Stop posting I am sickened by what has happened and I can't take any more. It's not that I don't appreciate what you all have said, I do, but I feel awful knowing what has happened and you don't so Please stop. Charlynn.

She went on to say that her brother and daughter would never update her page for her and that she was attacked but things are not as they were told to the public. A bit later she posted a status that she was going to tell her story on her podcast that night.

To recap, she had been beaten severely and was in a private hospital, but around 9pm she would tell her side of her story on her podcast, Charred Remains.

Yes, I tuned in. I had to know. I had to. I wanted to believe that this whole time I was a heartless bitch and that Ryan the reporter who probably went to journalism school was wrong and that the police were hiding something. I really did. The podcast really just proved us all right.

Char broadcasts on BlogTalk Radio. I've used it in the past and I know it's a simple as having a laptop. So, in theory, she could have been in the hospital. Then she says she has two friends there with her. Oh! Wow, her friends came to visit her in the hospital and stayed to help her through her podcast. No. They were phone call guests. She started her podcast making it clear that she had been through hell and had been contacted by every news station and reporter she could think of asking her to confirm what happened to her, but she chose to tell her adoring fans her story instead. She promptly said, "To the reporter who commented on my blog, you can go fuck yourself." Needless to say I emailed Ryan the reporter and told him he should listen in because he was just verbally slapped. Later he tweeted at Char asking why she wouldn't speak to him and why she told him to fuck off.

She retold the tale of everything that had been said on her Facebook page and blog, except that in this retelling everything had happened Sunday afternoon, just a little over 24 hours earlier. That was confounding since she had made such a stink saying that someone hacked her page and her blog telling a story that just wasn't true. Then a funny thing happened, Char said her daughter was knocking at her door. She queued up a Def Leppard song and left the show running while she attended to her daughter.

Char had been beaten within an inch of her life a little over 24 hours previous, had been airlifted to a private hospital where she was now holding podcast court after 9pm, and now her daughter was knocking at her door. Naturally, she went to answer it. Am I missing something?!

She went on to tell this elaborate tale of how a woman and eight friends attacked her in the Best Buy parking lot. Once again her story is a bit hazy as she explains these are people she knows, people whose kids used to call her Auntie and people she considered herself very close to at one time. She also mentioned something about being set up on a date, slapping some dude and that the woman who started this aggression with her had something to do it.

It was all sounding insane, even more insane than I could have imagined. Then she went on some tangent about how police had a few in custody, but then how some of her friends exacted some "swamp justice" or something and found the other three women involved and shaved their heads and gave them duct tape bikini waxes before turning them into police to answer for their charges. I wish I were making this all up, but it's all true. While this episode of her podcast has been mysteriously removed from her page (within two hours of its recording I might add), it lives on in a recording an astute listener made.



Char failed to answer some of the most burning and obvious questions: assuming that a hacker went into her blog, her Facebook, and her twitter accounts, why would they simply post that she had been attacked? What did that gain them? If the described attack was the ranting of a hacker -- though Char was actually attacked -- how did the blog post(s) differ from the actual events? Why the removal of the post, tweets, Facebook postings, and the "explanatory"

I couldn't help but notice that Char sounded quite happy, laughing through the last fifteen plus minutes of her podcast. She, or whoever was posting status updates for her, had said she has been choked very badly and could hardly talk. This Char, however, sounded quite relaxed and refreshed.

I will never make light of another woman's plight or say, "Oh well, if someone went through a hellish day they have to act like this or like that." We ALL handle stress and strife differently. I'm not one to judge but, something was just off about the whole thing. She had this army of supporters holding her hand and agreeing with everything she said, and completely throwing common sense out the window. How was a person who was airlifted to the hospital, unconscious and blood-spattered for several hours in a dumpster, and incoherent at times do a podcast the next day?

Over the next 24 hours I had about a dozen new friend requests. People commending me on waving a question flag more than once on public discussions about this story. They agreed wholeheartedly but thought they were alone. I even had a couple of friends express remorse for believing her after having doubts themselves.

The day after her podcast I took the liberty of calling every Best Buy within a 100 mile radius of New Orleans. I never said I was Columbo, but I've worked retail. I know for a fact if something as salacious as what she said happened and I asked I would find out which store it happened at. I asked to speak to the store manager at every single store. None of them had heard of such a thing. One even echoed what I had been saying all along, "If it had happened it'd be all over the news," she said. Exactly.

Char had also mentioned that she had obtained a lawyer quite soon after waking up from her "coma(?)". I wondered, if she was attacked why would SHE need a lawyer? Another friend mentioned that it sounded suspect; he had friends who had arrests for criminal activity. He surmised that perhaps she had broken the law in some way and was trying to cover it up with this story. It made sense. But I also felt like maybe she really had been in a fight and needed a story to excuse it. Once again, I would never, ever try to disparage a woman who had been attacked. I would however happily call out someone who made up such an elaborate story in an attempt to garner sympathy. Even though her reasoning behind making up such a story just didn't make sense. Why? Why make something like that up. I understand why people would have trouble believing she made it up, though I understand not believing such an outlandish story much more.

In the end I find it weird that Char responded with a stoic, "I no longer want to speak about it." One could say it's her business and it's no one's concern but her own. I have to counter that with saying that once she broadcast her story to the world, asking for people to send their well-wishes and prayers, she made an emotional debt that she deserves to answer to.

4 comments:

Midnyte Reader said...

All I can say is..."Wow." Very thorough and interesting post. It's amazing all the things that happen or just grow out of control due to social media.

Kristy Jett said...

A few days after I wrote this, a friend and I were on a roadtrip and he was reading it as we drove. He stopped and said, "Whoa. The attack sounds exactly like the attack that Jodie Foster is subjected to in The Brave One." Now I have never seen the film but perhaps someone else could concur?

Alex Jowski said...

In The Brave One Jodie Foster and Naveen Andrews are a married couple looking for their lost dog. Three guys kidnapped the dog and want money for it but instead beat up Jodie Foster and kill her fiancee and dog. The movie is more about her waking up from a coma 3 months later and trying to emotionally recover.

Similarly though, Jodie Foster's character in the movie is a radio host - which is corollary to podcasting.

Mike White said...

How about The Accused?

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