Fact Check

Newark Woman Arrested for Assaulting, Killing Son with Toy?

A fake news site fabricated a horrifying and humorless claim about a Newark mother assaulting and killing her toddler with a sex toy.

Published May 3, 2016

A Newark woman was arrested for raping and killing her toddler son.

In early February 2016, the fake news web site Empire Herald published an article titled "Newark Woman Arrested For Raping Her 2 Year Old Son With A Toy, Child Dies From Injuries."  Its content was no less disturbing than the title:

Newark mother arrested for raping her 2 year old son with a vibrator resulting in his death.

Shakeda Brown, 25, of Newark, New Jersey, pled not guilty to charges of sexual misconduct with a minor and child abuse after a vibrator she allegedly shoved into her 2-year-old son's rectum had to be surgically removed, later resulting in the child's death.

Doctors also discovered an object lodged in his rectum, which appears to be a vibrator or some other sex toy. According to reports, it appeared as if the injuries around the toddler's anus were from his mother using her finger or another object in an attempt to remove the vibrator, but he eventually had to undergo surgery.

Authorities further questioned Brown which lead to the discovery of Brown’s involvement in the child’s injuries. According to authorities, Brown provided the following explanation regarding the incident:

"I got tired of him crying when I was trying to have sex with my boyfriend. I changed him, fed him, and burped him but he kept crying. I didn’t have sex in over 3 days so I was really horny. When me and my boyfriend were trying to do it, my son kept crying so I put one of my toys in his butt to keep him quiet. I didn’t realize it would cause this much damage to him, I just wanted him to stop crying so I could have sex,” said Brown to authorities.

The claim is typical of the outlandish, fabricated articles routinely published by Empire Herald (which features no disclaimer warning readers that its articles are exclusively in the realm of fake news), but the content of this particular article is far darker than many of the site's other efforts. It also contains no satirical elements or humor, serving solely to distress readers. Why the claim suddenly gained traction is unclear.

Previous Empire Herald hoaxes included claims about a dog meat restaurant, a serial killer who purportedly carved "Black Lives Matter" into his victims' skin, a falsehood about a man committing suicide over the Harriet Tubman $20 bill, and a yarn about a mother caught masturbating with a Happy Meal toy in a McDonald's Playplace.

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.

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