Newspaper: terminally ill child dying in Santa's arms can't be verified
KNOXVILLE – The report of a terminally ill child dying in the arms of a Tennessee Santa Claus can not be verified, a newspaper in Knoxville now says.
Earlier this week, The News Sentinel published the story of Eric Schmitt-Matzen's, a Knoxville Santa Claus, who said a terminally ill five-year-old boy died in his arms after he gave the boy a present in an unnamed hospital. The newspaper was approached with the information of the story and then contacted Schmitt-Matzen.
During the initial interview, Schmitt-Matzen promised to protect the identities of the child's family and nurse that was with him at the hospital.
The story went viral and was shared by multiple media outlets across the country, including The Associated Press.
Since the original publication of the story, The News Sentinel has done additional investigations to verify Schmitt-Matzen's account, however the investigations have been unsuccessful. Additionally, Schmitt-Matzen's story of bringing the boy a gift could not be verified.
"Therefore, because the story does not meet the newspaper's standards of verification, we are no longer standing by the veracity of Schmitt-Matzen's account," a statement from the News Sentinel reads.
Read the full statement here.