There are a few things in this world that really irk me: people with bad table manners, drivers who don’t use their blinkers, and people who judge others based on their outward appearance, race, weight, or sexual preference. That said, however, nothing pisses me off more than people who lie, cheat, steal, or prey on the emotions of other people for their personal satisfaction or gain. I have made no secret that I belong to MWOP, a group committed to discussing the bad business practices and lies of mommy blogger Jennifer McKinney, a.k.a. “MckMama.” Jennifer and her husband, Israel, had a child with a heart problem; they received prayers and kindnesses from all over the world including gift cards, hotel stays, and money. Jennifer has gone on to make a $100,000+ annual income from her blog while not paying creditors, taxes, foreclosing on 3 homes, having a Cadillac Escalade and Dodge Ram repossessed, and traveling around the country whenever the mood strikes. She and her husband have now filed bankruptcy and have continued to lie and cheat, hiding assets, not declaring assets, and lying about income. While Jennifer McKinney is trying to cheat the American taxpayers out of $750,000 due to her financial messiness, there is one thing of truth about Jennifer: her sick child, who is now perfectly healthy and thriving (and cute as a button), is real. Jennifer herself is real. Jennifer McKinney never scammed anyone. Jennifer reached out on her blog while pregnant with her son (her fourth child) asking for prayers and for people to know his name. She never asked for money; money eventually came from charitable people, but Jennifer never asked for it nor did she ask for donations to be made to a health-related fund or charity. Jennifer blogged about her feelings and her son’s medical problems in a heartfelt way, and I firmly believe that a taste of fame coupled with constant attention and an influx of money contributed to her becoming the person she is today. The following story is an example of a complete and utter scam.
Yesterday, Mother’s Day of all days, a friend of mine on MWOP, Fleaves, posted a long and heartfelt message about the Dirr family of Dundurn, Saskatchewan, Canada. Apparently JS and Dana Dirr are the parents of 10 children, and Dana was 35 weeks pregnant with baby #11. Their son, Eli, at age 4 or 5, is battling childhood cancer for the fourth time and had a FB fan page and Caringbridge page dedicated to chronicling his story. Fleaves said that she found out Dana, a trauma surgeon, had been in a car accident Saturday night on her way to work; she was airlifted to the hospital where she was supposed to be working that night. Fleaves then went on to say that Dana had died, and the 35 week old baby, a girl, had been born healthy.
I felt so bad for this family. I personally don’t believe in God and don’t pray, but I am compassionate and empathetic and send good vibes and love in my own way. I hurt for the family when I read about this tragedy. Then for some reason something seemed really off. I googled and googled looking for information regarding the accident and found nothing at all. I asked for a link to Eli’s FB page or the names of his parents, and when I found out the name of his mother, Danika “Dana” Devereaux Dirr I googled. I found nothing. This was a major accident, and surely a story about a young, pregnant trauma surgeon with 10 kids, one of which is battling cancer again, would be newsworthy. I then googled to find listings of physicians in Saskatchewan (the Canadian province where the Dirr family lives). I found nothing. This is what tipped me off that this was potentially a hoax because physicians have to be licensed, and names of licensed physicians are public domain. I mentioned my findings on MWOP, and just a few minutes later one of my MWOP friends posted that the pictures on the father’s web page were actually pictures of children belonging to a mommy blogger from South Africa. I looked, and she was right. I went to the Warrior Eli FB page, and amongst the hundreds and hundreds of prayerful messages and condolences I said I didn’t believe a word of this and suspected a hoax. I posted the link that my friend had recently uncovered, and then I posted again with another link showing that another one of their kids was, in fact, someone else’s child.
My MWOP friend, Taryn, aided by PoorPippinNPoppy and Skeptigal, started www.warriorelihoax.wordpress.com alleging the whole sick child with cancer/mother died/baby is born fiasco was nothing more than a hoax. After I went to bed these girls looked over JS’s FB page and found that photos he posted from “his bad car accident” were photos taking by a wrecking service in Virginia. Photos on Dana’s FB page showing her pregnant tummy belonged to another pregnant woman. More and more photos were uncovered and proven to be fakes. An innocent man from Florida, Joe, a cancer survivor in his own right, approached the family wanting to help and was made admin of the Warrior Eli page. He now has his name attached to this mess, and, like us, had no idea this was a complete and utter hoax.
The FB fan page for Warrior Eli has since been taken down, and the profiles of JS and Dana Dirr have been made private and the photos unviewable. Alex’s Lemonade Stand is investigating this hoax as well as they have received donations since Dana’s alleged death. The Dirr family (if they even exist) never asked for money directly but asked that any donations be made to the Alex’s Lemonade Stand charity. I am sure it would have been just a matter of time until fund was set up for the family to care for 11 children.
What I don’t understand is how someone could create such an elaborate hoax, with 3 fake FB profiles (for JS, Dana, and Dana’s father Dane), a page for Warrior Eli (whose photo is of a child named Adam), and troll the internet for tons of photos of their children, their life, and of pregnant bellies and ultrasounds. What is the desire to manipulate people emotionally and possibly financially? Is it for attention? Are they lonely and needing attention and accolades? Do they want to see if they can pull it off? Are they looking to get rich? Are they mentally ill? This sickens me because thousands of people, including some of my MWOP friends, spent their Mother’s Day crying over this tragedy and sending prayers. I just don’t understand it. Someone created an entire fake life: fake husband, fake wife, 11 fake kids, fake FB and Caringbridge pages, and a shit-ton of fake personal information. I am floored.
I am also angry because I personally have followed the stories of many children suffering from cancer who are no longer with us: Jack Williamson, Hayley Thomson, and Merrill King to name a few. These were real kids with real cancer and real families. I started reading Jennifer McKinney’s blog when Stellan was sick; I feel angry and betrayed that Jennifer has lied about so many things, plagiarized, committed perjury, etc., but her child is real and he actually was sick. I just cannot fathom the reasons or needs behind someone creating such an elaborate hoax. I’m gobsmacked.
It is a damn shame that we have to guard our emotions and wallets with an iron grip and not be able to take someone and their story at face value. I believe that humans are inherently good, and sometimes that clouds my judgment. It is a shame that so many caring souls will probably now be less likely to let people in. I encourage you to read the Warrior Eli Hoax page that I linked above, and I encourage you to research people and situations before parting with money, tears, and your time.