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False Tip Sends Officials In Search Of Mass Grave

By ANNA-MEGAN RALEY, CBS Houston
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(credit: MyFoxHouston.com)

(credit: MyFoxHouston.com)

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A tipster informed Liberty County sheriff’s officials Tuesday of a rural residence that is the burial site of 25 to 30 dismembered bodies. The tip, which led to a joint investigation between deputies and the FBI, proved false.

As reported by the Houston Chronicle, a state law enforcement source told the newspaper that deputies had been directed to the site by a woman who claims to be a psychic.

“All we know is the sheriff department received a call about a mass grave, or something like that, with several bodies,” the source told the Chronicle. “They went and checked it, and there was nothing there. The caller went back and said, ‘No, you went to the wrong house.’

“They go back out and go to the house and see something dark that could have been blood, and do a presumptive test that it was human blood.”

The house in question is the home of Joe Bankson, who says he’s lived at the residence for three years with his wife, according to the report.  Bankson told the Chronicle he didn’t know why police would be at his home and says the blood is from a suicide attempt by a family member.

“I haven’t killed anybody,” he said, according to the story. “And I have a lot of friends, but I haven’t helped anybody bury any bodies.”

Deputies told KRIV-TV there was an odor coming from the backyard of the home, but cadaver dogs discovered no human remains on the property. Rotting garbage is said to be the reason for the distinct foul smell.

Officials are now turning their investigation to the tipster, whose details of the interior of the home sent police on a false search for a mass grave.

According to The Cleveland Advocate, Capt. Rex Evans, a public information officer in Liberty,  informed the media that the identity of the tipster is being withheld at this time.

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