This is one of those news stories that will have you shaking your head in disbelief, and swearing that there is no way this could have possibly happened.. yet it did. It really did. And the scary twist to this story, is that this is not the first time something like what you are about to read has actually happened. Prepare to be amazed, shocked, and question the human race. Note that this whole incident was caught on tape by a security camera.
On April 9, 2004, an employee of a Mount Washington, Kentucky McDonald's restaurant named Louise Ogborn, was working the evening shift as a way of trying to help out and to earn a few extra dollars. Choosing to work this night would turn out to be a very big mistake for the 18 yr old girl. Little did she know at the time that a nightmare of epic proportions was just beginning.
The Phone Call
A phone call is received by assistant manager Donna Summers, from a man claiming to be a police officer. The man tells Summers that a purse has been stolen by an employee of the restaurant, and that he has the manager of the McDonald's listening on the line with him. When asked who the thief is, the man simply gives a description of a very small young lady. Summers then calls employee Louise Ogborn into the cramped office, while she continues talking on the phone with the man who calls himself "Officer Scott". She then informs Louise of the allegation.
Although she denies she stole anything, claiming she was behind the counter cooking burgers the whole time, assistant manager Summers is ordered by the caller to instruct Louise to empty all her pockets, give up her cell phone, car keys.. and then to take off all her clothes. Louise obeys the order and removes everything, even her underwear. All off her clothes are put into a garbage bag and she is given a small dirty apron to cover herself with.
Since it is a very busy night at the McDonalds, Summers has to leave the room to manage the restaurant. The man on the phone asks if anyone else can stay in the room with Louise until the police arrive. She chooses another employee at the restaurant named Jason Bradley. Summers hands the phone to the 27 yr old Bradley and leaves the office, and then the man on the line instructs Bradley to do a number of things, including ordering Louise to drop the apron she is using to cover herself. But Bradley will have nothing to do with any of this and leaves the room angry, telling assistant manager Summers the whole thing is bullshit and he will not follow the callers' instructions. Yet unfortunately he doesn't do anything else like.. call the police.
Things Get Worse
Summers returns to the room to resume talking with the man on the phone, but tells him she has to continue running the restaurant. The man asks if she is married, and Summers replies that she is engaged. He asks if she trusts him and if he could come down to the restaurant to watch Louise in the small office until the police arrive. Summers calls her fiance Walter Nix, on her cell phone and he agrees and comes to the McDonalds a short time later. Before he arrives, Louise is in tears and is scared and terrified of this whole situation. Naked with only a dirty apron that barely covered the front of her, she couldn't leave the room, her cell phone and car keys were taken, leaving the 90 lb teenager feeling trapped and alone.
Walter Nix arrives at the restaurant and is taken to the back office by Summers who then leaves him alone with Louise while she continues to manage the restaurant. Now Nix has the phone and is listening to the callers instructions and commands. He first has Louise drop her apron, bend over, and then stand on a chair. Then the requests turn completely bizarre as the caller orders Nix to tell her to jog, and even do jumping jacks.. he says this is to shake loose anything she might be hiding! The whole time Nix completely complies with the caller's orders. At this point Louise has been detained for about 2 hours, yet her ordeal is far from over. She even talks to the caller herself, who tells her that if she wants to keep her job she will cooperate.
If this story isn't crazy enough for you, read on because it is about to get crazier. When Louise fails to address Walter Nix as "Sir" the caller orders Nix to strike the girl on the buttocks. In the video, you can see Louise standing in front of Nix and then he motions his hand to his knee, then you see her reluctantly lie over his knee. Nix then spanks the girl over his knee for almost 10 minutes! Angry red welts appear on her bottom and then finally she is allowed up.
When Summers came into the office to check on things, Nix would throw Louise the apron to cover up.. telling her "Shhh!" and to keep quiet before she entered. Every time Summers would leave the office, Nix would continue the interrogation which began to intensify as time went by. Later by the instructions of the caller, Nix forces Louise to perform a sexual act. After almost 3 hours into the ordeal, Summers is back in the room and the caller excuses Nix and tells her to bring in someone else! The man Summers chooses this time is Thomas Simms, a 58-year-old maintenance man. Luckily for Louise, Simms immediately told Summers that something was not right and then finally Summers began to share the same thoughts. She called her manager's home, whom the caller said he had listening on the other line, only to find out she had been sleeping the whole time. It was only then that Summers realized the whole thing was an elaborate hoax.. after what turned out to be almost 4 hours!
Police traced the phone call to Panama City, Florida and found that it was made from a supermarket pay phone using a calling card. After months of investigations police were able to track down a suspect by looking at store security video of where the calling card was purchased. Noticing the man in the video was wearing a corrections uniform, he was later identified by a prison warden as 38 year old David Stewart, and is the suspect in this case.
Now your first thoughts after reading this might be to think all these people, with a few exceptions, must be complete morons. I mean who in their right mind would fall for a scam like this? It turns out a lot of people did, and similar hoaxes have been going on for almost 10 years. By the end of 2003 there were 70 reports of similar scams and police say there are more cases that were never reported due to embarrassment, fear they would look stupid, and out of court settlements to avoid the press.
Personally I feel bad for Louise Ogborn. Sure there are some that will say she should have known better, but I believe she was a young naive girl who put too much trust in authority. She was worried about losing a job that she greatly needed at the time, and then that turned to the fear she would go to jail for a crime she didn't commit if she didn't follow the instructions. That's just my opinion and I know many might disagree. I remember being 18 like she was, and I can not honestly say how I would have reacted if the same thing happened to me. Many will flat out say they would have known the whole thing was a scam right off the bat, yet as mentioned above many other groups of people from 70 other fast food restaurants also made the same mistakes as those in this story. Something to think about.
Louise Ogborn is suing McDonalds's for $31,270,000 in damages. A civil trial against the world's largest fast-food chain is set for March 30 2005. McDonald's claims Ogborn should have realized Stewart was not a police officer and Stewart and Nix are responsible for whatever damages (if any) she suffered.