The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

January 16, 2013

Newspaper deceived by 'Missing dog' story


CNHI News Service

JACKSONVILLE, Tex. — The feel-good story about a homeless man who lost, then recovered, his service dog has turned out to be a  hoax.

Charles Lee Boothe, 54, described by local police as a "drifter-grifter" with multiple convictions in seven states, pulled off the deception in a recent interview with the Jacksonville Daily Progress, authorities said. They said he intended to receive money from sympathetic readers.

But the hoax was exposed when Boothe showed up drunk and muttering conspiracy theories at the paper late last week. Police were called and Boothe was jailed. Authorities said he had tried the same false story in Palestine, Tex.

"If he hadn't come back into our offices in the throes of a meltdown, we might not have ever known that something was wrong, very wrong, with his version of events," Daily Progress Editor Amy Brocato Pearson said. "I feel bad for all the people who tried to help him."

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Details for this story were provided by the Jacksonville (Texas) Daily Progress.