When a 13-year-old boy returned home late from school, he had a horrific story to tell. According to the teen, a group of white supremacists grabbed him, beat him, and held him at gunpoint. The allegations sparked a police investigation, but what cops discovered is even more troubling than what the child described.
When Zavion Parker didn’t return home from school, his mother, Michelle Lee, called the police to report the 13-year-old Texas boy missing, saying she received messages from his kidnappers, who were using his cellphone and threatening to kill her son. Zavion eventually made it home, but his clothes were torn and his shoes were missing. That’s when the 6th grader recalled, in detail, a horrific chain of events that he said began just after he exited his Houston school bus.
According to Zavion Parker, five teenage boys approached him on Greenwich and Rhobell Street before forcing him into a 4-door vehicle decorated with flames on the side, ABC News reported. Zavion said the teens were accompanied by a white adult male, who was driving the truck and had straight orange hair and a racially charged tattoo on his arm. That tattoo led Michelle Lee to believe her son was targeted because of his race.
“The reason why they got him was because they said he was black, ‘you deserve to die.’ Exactly his words,” Michelle Lee told reporters. “Saying … the dad had, like, a white muscle shirt on, and you could see [the tattoo] … was right here big as day, ‘I hate black people,'” she added, describing the tattoo Zavion said he saw on the adult male’s arm. The group allegedly took Zavion to an abandoned building where he was assaulted and stripped of his jacket, shoes, phone, and keys.
When the men allegedly went into another room to load a gun, Zavion said he was able to escape. As he reportedly ran as fast as he could down a Houston street in his bare feet while crying, he was spotted by Camecia Carmouche. The concerned woman stopped to help and called the police. As Zavion was returned to his mother, his story obviously sparked a police investigation, receiving widespread attention from both the news and social media.
According to the Houston Police, they thoroughly investigated the case, questioning the owners of the property where Zavion Parker said he was taken and speaking with the owner of a red pickup, which was circulated on social media as a possible suspect vehicle. They determined that the property Zavion described had nothing to do with any crime and neither the property owners nor the truck owner had any involvement in the case.
In fact, authorities determined that Zavion’s story as he and his mother recalled it — claiming he was abducted after getting off the school bus, threatened, and attacked by a group of white supremacists — was not true at all. Simply put, authorities found no evidence to support the allegations, ABC News reported in a follow-up story, exposing the kidnapping as a hoax. And, the police weren’t alone in their conclusion. A longtime resident of the street where Zavion said he was abducted never believed the story either.
“There is absolutely no reason to believe there is a group of white supremacists abducting children in the area,” the Houston Police told the community, insisting the incident did not take place and there were no white supremacists targeting and attacking black children in the neighborhood. Investigators met with Michelle Lee as well as community activists to report their findings, and ABC reached out to Zavion Parker’s mother, but she declined any further comment.
The police said no charges will be filed against anyone involved, which might be the saddest part of this story. This lie spread with fury across the news and social media, sparking upset and outrage. When there are no consequences for making a false report and perpetuating a hoax, what will deter others from doing the same? Racism is disgusting, but false allegations of a hate crime that divide the nation further might be even worse. Let this be a reminder that we shouldn’t believe everything we hear — not even when it’s receiving widespread media attention.