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AZ: Conspiracy theories inspire vigilante justice in Tucson

[hcn.org – 9/12/18]

How one man’s imagined discovery of a sex-trafficking camp in the Sonoran Desert gained life online — and in the real world.

On May 31, a strange story aired on the nightly news in Tucson, Arizona. KOLD News 13 reporter Kevin Adger told viewers that a local veterans’ rights activist named Lewis Arthur had made a horrific discovery in the bushes beside a frontage road: a bunker used as a stopover by child sex traffickers. The reporter pointed out children’s clothes, an old toilet seat and a septic tank where Arthur claimed kids had been held against their will.

Arthur had stumbled across the camp while canvassing the area for homeless vets. He posted an outraged rant on Facebook and started getting comments — a lot of them. When he posted videos arguing that there were probably bodies buried at the camp and that it was part of a network of Arizona sex trafficking sites, he topped 680,000 views in days.

There was just one problem with Arthur’s story: It wasn’t true. Tucson police and sheriff’s deputies both investigated the site and found nothing more than a former homeless camp — no evidence of sex trafficking. Arthur then claimed he and two friends had found proof: a child’s skull. Officers sent the skull to the Pima County medical examiner, who concluded that it had belonged to an adult and been found miles away from the homeless camp.

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  1. Dustin

    Guy’s a complete nut. But as with other conspiracy theorists, there’s no talking him out of his absurdity. Unfortunately, it won’t be until he hurts someone that anything can be done about him.

  2. Nicholas Maietta

    Everyone who is so fixated on the existence of something non-existence should either be committed to a mental hospital or investigated for projected criminal activity. Take your pick.

  3. Harry

    I wonder what it take to convince the psychology professions to classify, sex offender hysteria as a mental illness epidemic

    • Tim Moore

      I think we need to recognized illness can exist at the group level, and it is something more than what happens when a few crazy dudes get together. What else explains so well Nazi Germany or the Rowanda genocide — lot of normal people acting crazy in concert? Maybe there needs to be a profession that deals with social psychosis.

  4. Jason

    The guys real name is Michael Lewis Arthur Meyer, he is a convicted felon and has been arrested multiple times on weapons and drug charges. The guy is NOT a Veteran, and doesn’t help our cause. SMH!

  5. B.Wat.

    I wonder where he got the human skull.

  6. Tim Moore

    ‘“They’re out there chasing ghosts,” Scott Cutright, a veteran who spent a few weeks in one of Arthur’s shelters this year, had told me. “That’s the term you use in the military. You hear things go bump in the night, you think it’s the enemy, but in reality it’s your imagination because you’re scared or you’re amped up. You think there’s something out there, you pour resources into (it). But in reality, it’s ghosts.”’
    What a perfect metaphor for the impetus behind the registry and all its laws. God or someone help us.

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