‘Missing’ Woman Margaret Sweeney Charged With Falsely Reporting Her Own Murder

A North Carolina woman who was recently reported missing is now facing charges surrounding her disappearance. 

On Friday, the Franklin Police Department shared a Facebook post stating that Margaret Frances “Maggie” Elizabeth Sweeney was listed as a missing person. By Monday, the woman was not only found but arrested. 

According to an update by the department, the 37-year-old is facing several offenses, including causing false report to a police station, false report of death or serious injury by telephonic communication, and obstructing law enforcement officers.

The Franklin Police Department revealed that officers immediately began searching for the North Carolina resident after a report “which alluded that Sweeney was endangered or deceased.”

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The following day, Sweeney was discovered to be safe. Though the woman was found unharmed, the investigation into what caused the missing person’s report to be filed continued. According to the Franklin Police Department, Sweeney allegedly “made anonymous third-party false reports to a friend and the Department of Social Services that she had been murdered.” 

The police department continued: “Sweeney’s actions caused our department, as well as other departments, many hours of work which could have been spent on other matters. Family, friends, and the community as a whole were also very concerned and worried about Sweeney’s welfare.”

On Tuesday, local NBC affiliate WYFF-4 shared that Sweeney was found Saturday in a neighboring town not far from where she was reported missing. 

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Missing woman Margaret Sweeney charged for falsely reporting own murder.

Franklin Police Department

“Everything at the moment seemed legitimate” at first, Franklin Police Chief Devin Holland told WLOS in Asheville, North Carolina. After a deputy located Sweeney by pinging her phone, she reportedly told him she was unaware that people were looking for her. Authorities reportedly found those claims to be untrue. Holland added that he is unsure what caused her to allegedly say she was in danger, but that “it does appear there was some domestic issues with the boyfriend.”

The Franklin Police Department did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

It’s unclear if Sweeney has an attorney who can comment on her behalf.

Sweeney’s case comes almost one month after Carlee Russell made headlines for allegedly staging her own abduction, only to return to her parent’s home shortly after. The 25-year-old Alabama nursing student became the focus of a nationwide search after she reportedly stopped her car on the side of the road one night after reportedly seeing a toddler walking on the road alone. While on the phone, the person on the other line reportedly heard Russell scream before the call dropped. 

Her mother, Talitha Russell-Robinson, spoke with AL.com, saying that after the cry for help, “All you hear on her phone is background noise from the interstate.” Russell reappeared two nights later and police announced they were “unable to verify” her kidnapping claims.

At a press conference following her return, Hoover police Chief Nick Derzis said, “There are many questions left to be answered. Only Carlee can provide those answers.” 

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California ‘Gone Girl’ Kidnap Victim Harassed Online by People Claiming Abduction Was Hoax

“I do think it’s highly unusual that the day someone gets kidnapped, seven or eight hours before that they were searching the movie Taken about an abduction,” Derzis said of Russell’s case. 

Russell later admitted the kidnapping was a hoax and was charged with false reporting to law enforcement and falsely reporting an incident, both misdemeanors. “We have no idea where Carlee Russell was for 49 hours,” Derzis said at the time of her brief disappearance. 

Many hoped that Russell’s case would not deter the masses from taking abductions seriously. Zach Sommers, a criminologist and attorney, spoke to PEOPLE following the high-profile incident. “The vast majority of missing persons cases that get reported to police are not hoaxes,” he said in July.

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