Just Because It's Trending Doesn't Mean It's True
Hoax Alert

Fake News: Woman Did NOT Stuff Husband's Head Inside Christmas Dinner Turkey

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Wed, 26 Dec 2018 19:46:02 Z)

STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.

Did a woman in Ocala, Florida (or anywhere else) kill her husband and stuff his head in a Christmas Turkey that she then served to her horrified family? No, that's not true: a fake news website pretending to be NBC News published the story but the site is the latest in a long string of sites all imitating legitimate U.S. news outlets but publishing fictional tales in order to make money through advertising. It is not real.

The story originated from an article published by NBC News 11 (not the real NBC News) on December 26, 2018 titled "Ocala, FL: Woman charged after her husband's head is found stuffed inside Christmas dinner turkey" (archived here) which opened:

A 53-year old Ocala, Florida woman has been charged with murder after her horrified family carved into their turkey for a Christmas eve dinner - and discovered the severed head of her husband stuffed inside.

The accused woman, Francine Michaels, had been married to the 62-year old victim, Paul Michaels, for 30 years. The couple had three children who were all present at the Christmas eve dinner when the gruesome discovery was made.

Investigators have pieced together the events leading up to the incident, with the conclusion that Mrs Michaels murdered her husband after learning he had fathered a secret child with another woman.

Screenshot of http://www.nbcnews11.com/ocala-fl-woman-charged-after-her-husbands-head-is-found-stuffed-inside-christmas-dinner-turkey/

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail and may have thought the story came from a real news site:

Ocala, FL: Woman charged after her husband's head is found stuffed inside Christmas dinner turkey

A 53-year old Ocala, Florida woman has been charged with murder after her horrified family carved into their turkey for a Christmas eve dinner - and discovered the severed head of her husband stuffed inside.The accused woman, Francine Michaels, had b

However the website was only registered a few days ago and has nothing to do with the real CBS News:

Domain:nbcnews11.com
Registrar:NameCheap, Inc.
Registered On:2018-12-18
Expires On:2019-12-18

The site is part of a larger network of sites all designed to look like news sites from real U.S. news and entertainment brands. Older sites we identified as being part of this network include:

  • www.abcnews-us.com
  • www.abcnews5.com
  • www.boston-post.com
  • www.cbsnews15.com
  • www.cbsnews24.com
  • www.coindesk-us.com
  • www.fox-26houston.com
  • www.fox-32chicago.com
  • www.foxnews-us.com
  • www.foxnews15.com
  • www.nbcnews11.com
  • www.nbcnews15.com
  • www.nbcnews6.com
  • www.si-nba.com
  • www.thenyherald.com
  • www.tmz-us.com
  • www.us-nbcnews.com
  • www.vice-en-us.com
  • www.yahoonews-us.com

The current site shares several advertising network ID codes with other sites in this network.

Stories published by the network are often copied or inspired by older hoaxes from other satire or fake news sites but the quality of the writing is usually markedly better. The setting of the events is often some small town somewhere in the United States and in many cases the main illustration used is a picture found on the internet showing a police car from the local police force or a sign with the town's name on it. The same story is often re-used by changing the location and/or names of the people involved.

The picture used to illustrate the current story seems to have been copied off the image carousel of the Ocala Police Department website without attribution:

Ocala P.D. | Home

The site also carries following disclaimer at the bottom of the page, which is new for sites in this network:

Nuts Balls Cock News 11 (NBC News 11) is an award-winning satirical entertainment publication covering local state news. If it's disturbingly funny, you will find it here.

Updates:

: Added note about satire disclaimer.

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About the author:

Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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