STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA) - The Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Department issued a statement on Friday in response to a viral social media post.
Below is a copy of the full response.
On 09/16/2021, Deputies of the OCSD responded to the Retreats Apartments in Oktibbeha County for a call of a teddy bear found on a front porch. The Reporting Party told Deputies that she had found the bear and then spoke to a friend, who told her that she had seen the same thing happening around the Starkville area. Allegedly the bears were laced with Fentanyl and were a sign that the apartment/person was being watched, possibly by Human Traffickers. Deputies took possession of the Teddy Bear. Subsequently, the story was posted on social media by community members and has since gone viral.
THE INVESTIGATION SO FAR:
It has been determined that the Teddy Bear was NOT laced with any type of dangerous substance. OCSD Deputies spoke with the person who had stated that she had seen this information on SNAPCHAT. The person was unable to provide information regarding the person/person posting the SNAPCHAT or location of any other incidents. The OCSD reached out to surrounding agencies and determined that there were no other such incidents reported in Oktibbeha County, the City of Starkville or Mississippi State University as of 0800 hours this morning. Internet searches by Investigators were unable to locate any such instances of Human Traffickers utilizing this ruse.
At approximately 1000 hours this morning 09/17/2021, the original Reporting Party reached out to the Sheriff’s Department and stated that a neighbor had admitted to placing the bear near her apartment. Deputies were able to confirm this with the neighbor. The investigation has shown that there was no malice intended and the placement of the bear was not meant to harass or intimidate anyone.
At approximately 1030 hours, a second complaint was filed in the same apartment complex. Deputies recovered a second Teddy Bear. The Reporting Party stated that it had been found at approximately 0630 hours this am. None of the Report Party’s roommates had ever seen the bear prior to the reporting time. This Teddy Bear was also NOT laced with any dangerous substances.
While the investigation into the matter continues, Investigators have found no evidence that this instance is anything other than a copycat hoax. If anyone has any other information on this incident please contact the OCSD at 662-323-2421 or the OCSD Investigations Unit at 662-324-8484.
As always, the best advice is to remain vigilant and aware of your surroundings at all time. Pay attention to people near you especially at night. As always if you believe you are in danger do not hesitate to call for law enforcement.