A biracial woman received national media attention for her story that she had been attacked by four white males who doused her with gasoline and lit her on fire, but law enforcement agencies say they could not find any evidence to support her claims.
Althea Bernstein, 18, said that she was attacked by four white males while she was driving through a protest in Madison, Wisconsin, in June. She claimed that the men yelled a racial slur at her when she stopped at a red light, and someone sprayed lighter fluid on her before lighting her on fire.
Bernstein's harrowing story made national headlines and many media figures championed her cause, including PBS White Correspondent Yamiche Alcindor.
An 18-year-old black woman says white men yelling racial slurs set her on fire yesterday in Wisconsin. Althea Bern… https://t.co/mnFBn7ZZQn— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche Alcindor)1593114179.0
Bernstein received a phone call from Meghan Markle and Prince Harry of the British royal family over her reported ordeal.
But on Friday, police
said they were closing the case because "after an exhaustive probe, detectives were unable to corroborate or locate evidence consistent with what was reported."
A team of local and federal law enforcement officials investigated the matter as a hate crime, but instead they might have uncovered a hate hoax.
In their 150-page report, they documented extensive interviews and surveillance video to come to their conclusion that the attack did not occur as Bernstein reported it. They also said that an arson dog was unable to find any evidence of her story in the car, and they noted that the car was not damaged in the attack.
They did find something like lighter fluid on her shirt, and she had been treated for burns to her face.
Investigators said no charges would be filed against her because they did not find evidence that she intentionally misled police.
Here's the report from Good Morning America on her story:
Biracial woman claims attack by 4 white men l GMA www.youtube.com
This story has been updated.