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Scary story isn't true, police say

By ABHI RAGHUNATHAN, Times Staff Writer
Published November 7, 2007


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ST. PETERSBURG - Here's another tale to file under the heading "urban myth."

This one began with phone calls from one concerned resident to another. Then dozens of people got the same e-mail recounting a disturbing story.

In days, the account of a jogger's near-nightmare raced through the city's chattering class.

The story, according to the e-mail: A woman who was jogging on Brightwaters Boulevard in Snell Isle was driven off the road by a black car. Then, a crazed man jumped out and chased her until another driver stopped to help. The would-be attacker got in his black car and escaped.

When the woman filed a report, a police officer supposedly told her that there had been similar incidents and that it may be a gang initiation ritual in which men rape women and take a garment of clothing as proof.

The story has prompted concern and warnings from friends who have e-mailed it to each other.

But cops say it's all baloney. Police have no such reports of an attack, or of any incidents even remotely resembling the ordeal described in the e-mail. It is unclear who started the e-mail or the rumor.

"As far as we can tell, it's a hoax," said police spokesman Bill Proffitt.

Abhi Raghunathan can be reached at araghunathan@sptimes.com or 727 893-8472.

[Last modified November 6, 2007, 23:46:00]


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