In 2009, Andrew Haley used the handle “catchmekiller” to post an anonymous video in which he claimed to have killed 16 women. After hinting two of his victims were missing persons, the authorities got involved, tracked Haley down, and apprehended him. Despite Haley’s claims, it turned out the video was a hoax. But instead of letting Haley go on his way, the Georgia State Police charged him with providing false statements and tampering with evidence.
Andrew Haley's tale reads as a “what not to do” when creating a viral hoax or an online game - what Haley says he was doing. By pulling actual missing persons into his “game,” Haley wasted the authorities' time and caused real pain for the people forced to relive the disappearance of a loved one.
In February 2009, Andrew Haley anonymously posted a video to YouTube where he confessed to murdering 16 women and hiding their remains. With his face blurred and voice distorted, Haley called for the authorities to play along with him. He also promised to provide a clue every week until they located the victims, saying "once all 16 bodies are found, you'll know exactly who I am."
In the video, Haley tells the police not to "chase" him, mimicking the tone of John Doe from David Fincher's Se7en. If Haley really envisioned the whole thing as a game, he didn't make it obvious.
In the YouTube video, Haley claims he killed 16 women. While he doesn't mention any of them by name, he does reference two prominent missing persons. The first, Tara Grinstead, disappeared in Georgia under mysterious circumstances in 2005. While Haley doesn't say her name, he discusses Grinstead's history as a pageant contestant:
"Who is she? What does she do? You answer me this, and I will give you her body. She was still wearing her favorite pair of jeans but not her beauty queen silk."
The second missing person Haley brings up is Jennifer Kesse of Orlando, Florida. Kesse disappeared in 2006, with no DNA evidence or phone records indicating what occurred. Haley even sent Kesse's father a link to his video, along with the message "Maybe I can help."
Because the video mentioned missing persons Jennifer Kesse and Tara Grinstead, the police aggressively pursued Haley. The two names added an air of legitimacy to Haley's claims of murdering them and 14 others. Law enforcement tracked Haley's IP address and raided his home in Florida shortly after the video went live in 2009.
Special Agent Gary Rothwell of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation told ABC News they had no choice about tracking down Haley. Rothwell said, "We had a person essentially confessing to the murder of Tara Grinstead, and we had to pursue that lead." At Haley's trial, Assistant District Attorney Conley Greer added, "He said, 'It's just a game,' but it involves two real people, two real families. There are real consequences when you deal with real families and real hurt."
Once authorities apprehended Haley, it became clear he didn't possess any knowledge about the location of Jennifer Kesse or Tara Grinstead. Haley was arrested on charges of tampering with evidence and making false statements, with GBI spokesman John Bankhead explaining, "There was nothing to indicate he was involved in any of these murders."
During the trial, attorney Kristin Jordan said of the video, "It was creepy, it was hurtful, but it was not criminal." Despite the defense, Hayley received two years in a work-release program and 13 years probation.