Warrior Eli's cancer fighting saga grabbed the attention of many caring people. His online supporters followed his fight with cancer and his mother's death like a virtual soap opera. We now know who was behind the hoax.
A former student at Northeast Ohio Medical University now claims responsibility. Emily Dirr dropped out of school before it received complaints. Since she never asked out right for donations meaning there's nothing law enforcement can do.
Donna Jantzen of Mulvane was one of the people who sent items to Dirr. She sent a homemade blanket and a small donation in April to the six-year-old fighter.
"You cared about him right away. He was such a cute little guy,” Jantzen said.
But after word spread through the Warrior Eli community that it was all a hoax. Jantzen didn't know what to believe.
"What if the hoax is a hoax?” Jantzen asked.
Factfinder12 talked with Jantzen in May about her concern that she and many others had fallen for this possibly fabricated story.
She then received her proof it was all fake.
"Doorbell rings and I go up, and there's my beat-up box with my blanket in it. All I could think was it was a hoax,” Jantzen said.
The woman Jantzen sent the package to in Ohio sent it back. She included $80 to cover postage and pay for blankets for other children. Also included was something else a handwritten apology.
Several organizations are looking into whether Warrior Eli was an internet hoax. Right now, there's no clear answer. Including what the person behind the so-called scam looked to gain, because he or she never asked out-right for donations publicly.
"It's almost too much to try to understand what caused someone to do this,” Jantzen said.
FactFinder12 knows of a couple of charities, like "Alex's Lemonade Stand,” that have investigated Warrior Eli's story. We also learned Northeast Ohio Medical University is looking into Warrior Eli after concerns it might be linked to the so-called scam.