“I feel sad for her,” Caitie said. “And I feel like she betrayed me.”

Girl’s story of dad was a hoax, paper says

While maybe not as disgusting and morally bereft as some of the hooligans at funerals or outside military hospitals, I think that this stunt take the cake:

CARBONDALE, Ill. – For two years, Carbondale residents have been riveted by the writing of a little girl imploring her father in Iraq: “Don’t die, OK?”

Only now are they learning there was never any danger of that.

The Daily Egyptian, Southern Illinois University’s student-run newspaper, today will admit to its readers that the saga – of a little girl’s published letters to her father serving in Iraq – was apparently an elaborate hoax perpetrated by a woman who claimed to be the girl’s aunt.

The woman dreamed the whole thing up, even taking the girl to the newsroom on occasion and once getting a man to play the part of the girls dad “back home on furlough”. Then they claimed he had been killed and held a little memorial service…with pictures of a man who didn’t look like the other man.

I can’t really excerpt parts that stand out, because it would be most of the article. Go read.

More here, including:

There is no soldier named Dan Kennings. The charming girl people came to know as Kodee Kennings is someone else entirely, a child from an out-of-state family led to believe she was playing a part in a documentary about a soldier.

Using role players, including an employee of a local Christian radio station, the woman at the center of the hoax spun a remarkable wartime tale so compelling it grabbed the hearts of young journalists, university faculty members and readers, and left them blind to the possibility it could all be a ruse. There appears never to have been a monetary motive. In fact, the reasons behind all the lies remain unclear.

And the memorial service:

On Saturday morning, cars began pulling into the gravel parking lot of a one-story American Legion hall in Orient, Ill., about 30 miles northeast of Carbondale. Hastings and Kodee got out of a red Grand Am, the little girl wearing an Army uniform shirt that hung down to her knees.

People inside the memorial service said both Hastings and Kodee were in tears. A video showing Dan Kennings in his fatigues speaking with a group of children at a church was playing, and there was a scrapbook filled with pictures of Kennings straddling a tank cannon or huddling with other soldiers.

This story has a lot of additional info so check it out as well.

Looking through some of the “Kenningsology” columns (examples here, here, and here), I can see how people got sucked into this. I’m not quite so sure about how the reporter(s) got suckered into it.

Just plain weird. (via Malkin)


  1. Not really weird at all. The perpetrator got whatever they wanted from the scam. Whether it was vicarious attention via the little girl; the thrill of playing a large group of people for gullible asses, getting a subtle blow in against the war on terror and/or Bush Admin policies, or all of the above (or something entirely different). I’ve worked around con artists (pros and amateurs) for most of my professional life. There is ALWAYS risk in taking a story at face value. Depends on who’s telling you the story, how well you know them (gives you a basis for assessing their general level of truthfulness), the specifics of the story, and whether you’re going to trumpet it to anyone else as being true (you DO have a reputation don’t you?). In this case, the perp was either lucky or smarter than she’s being given credit for. Putting all this together took a fair amount of organizational skill and persuasive ability. Picking a bunch of inexperienced (that’s spelled ‘suckers’ isn’t it?) college wannabes and a group of group hugging religionists was either a stroke of luck (if the perp was inexperienced), or a good choice of victims (if the perp was experienced) I guess the Daily Egyptian and the Christian radio station got ‘Dan Rathered’ in a less spectacular and not quite so ‘career fatal’ a way. LOL! PS: Always a good idea to get ‘some’ cooboration of a story before running with it kids!