“They just kept coming, and coming, and coming, across multiple states. Clowns in vans. Clowns in the woods. Clowns lurking in the shadows. Clowns chasing people or doing crimes.”
There seems to be a "Copycat Effect" moment around Creepy Clown prankster/hoaxster/harassers in the United States right now. Law enforcement agencies around the country are cracking down, and there have been a dozen arrests in multiple states over the last few weeks. The clowns are facing charges such as making false reports or threats, and chasing people.”
You know it's serious when horror author Stephen King says he's creeped out.
At least one death has been linked to a clown hoax.
The first reports of unusual clown sightings surfaced late in August in Greenville County, S.C., with stories that the costumed figures were offering children money to lure them into the woods or were lingering in places and giving residents the heebie-jeebies.
From there, the reports became a contagion, with sightings claimed in at least six other states: Alabama, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Even as the police were unable to verify the reports, they proliferated.
The drumbeat of negative publicity even prompted the Ali Ghan Shriners Club’s clown unit in Maryland to withdraw from a parade planned for October in Hagerstown, said Tom Holland, a member of the group, in an interview with The Cumberland Times-News on Wednesday.
One of the clown crime cases took place in LaGrange, Georgia. From the Troup County Sheriff's Office Facebook page, a bizarre report typical of the ones highlighted in the NYT piece:
On September 14th, deputies and investigators with the Troup County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to area of 3483 Hammett Road in reference to a report of unknown persons dressed as clowns standing outside a white van. Once on scene they made contact with the driver of the van who had stated he had ran out of gas and he gave deputies consent to search the van and there were no signs of any costumes in or around the vehicle.
After speaking with the driver of the van deputies and investigators made contact with the complainant, Brandon Jerome Moody, age 26. Moody stated that he called 911 and reported seeing clowns around a white van parked on Hammett Road. When questioned further Moody stated he actually saw the van yesterday with clowns inside and the same van was now parked on Hammett Road. Moody further stated he did not see any clowns today and had just made it up and that he was aware of all the complaints about clowns and the schools being on lock down. Moody also advised that Rebecca Moody, age 27, also called 911 and made a report of seeing the clowns but she had already left the area. Investigators spoke with Rebecca Moody and also listened to the 911 recordings of the calls. At that point both Rebecca Moody and Brandon Moody was placed under arrest transported to the Troup County Jail without further incident.
Both Rebecca Moody and Brandon Moody were charged with Obstruction and Unlawful Conduct during a 911 Call.