Wareham 'kidnapping' was fake news on Facebook

By Jaime Rebhan | Jul 25, 2017
Water Wizz is shown in a 2010 photo. Wareham Police say there was no thwarted kidnapping at the park last weekend.

The motives of a man who allegedly concocted an elaborate story about how he thwarted the attempted kidnapping of a young girl in a Water Wizz parking lot on Sunday are unclear, but according to Wareham Police, the incident never happened.

"Our investigation shows that this incident absolutely did not happen," said Police Chief Kevin Walsh. "We’re very, very confident that it didn’t happen."

It started with a Facebook post that went viral among people in Wareham and the surrounding area. Taylor Leonard detailed the incident, which was relayed to her by her boyfriend, Matt McGonnigal.

McGonnigal said while walking to their car to place their phones inside, he heard a girl screaming inside another vehicle, according to the post, which has since been deleted.

An altercation ensued that involved swearing, McGonnigal hitting the would-be kidnapper, and a police response that resulted in the offender being arrested, the post read. Leonard said McGonnigal saved the girl's life and is a "hero."

But Walsh said Wareham Police weren't called or otherwise made aware of the incident, and Water Wizz staff members were equally confused.

"No one was arrested. No officer was approached to make a report," said Walsh, who noted that an officer was stationed at the park that day for a police detail.

Walsh said detectives spoke to the couple on Monday.

"We're confident that this report did not happen. The investigation is continuing," Walsh said. "The investigation is more on the credibility of the male."

Water Wizz staff responded on the park's official Facebook page.

"Seems that somebody has started a very vicious and destructive posting," the post read. "As most of you know there are many things on Facebook that people post that are not true."

The couple does not reside in Wareham. McGonnigal's Facebook account indicates that he lives in Weymouth.

Before the post was deleted, it was shared hundreds of times and garnered more than a thousand "Likes."

Some responses on the post questioned whether officers and the park staff were trying to cover the incident up.

"I'm offended that the credibility of Water Wizz and the police department was questioned," Walsh said, adding that the park staff is "very safety conscious."

Wareham Week reached out to the couple, but did not receive an immediate response.

Comments (3)
Posted by: Steve Holmes | Jul 26, 2017 07:42

This social media stuff is getting out of hand. Especially for people like this. Why would someone do this? It's not funny, they knew it would spread like wildfire, if it's not a crime it should be.

Posted by: noseyrich | Jul 26, 2017 08:56

Morons abound!!! Don't care (or consider) how much of the town's resources are expended or who's business gets hurt, just fishin for "likes" and ten minutes of fame. It should be a crime to post / publish / report fake news, but then ABC CBS NBC AND CNN would have to be arrested too.

Just sayin!!!


Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Jul 26, 2017 09:51

I just don't understand social media and such stupidity.  It is troubling that bogus posts like this are made because they can be so detrimental.  Water Wizz is a great place and doesn't need any bad publicity.  The Wareham Police have better things to do.  What a waste of time.


One thing though.  With all the college kids working there for the summer, the Water Wizz management should have grabbed one that recently completed freshman English 101 to proof read their post. It's written grammatically rough.  Wareham and Water Wizz were spelled wrong.  That written statement represents their business.

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