Fact Check: Story About 480-Pound Annabelle Gaston Involuntary Manslaughter Charge For Killing Husband Is NOT True

Fact Check

  • by: Sarah Thompson
Fact Check: Story About 480-Pound Annabelle Gaston Involuntary Manslaughter Charge For Killing Husband Is NOT True Fiction

Did a 480-pound Ohio woman named Anabelle Gaston accidentally kill her husband while they were engaged in a sex act? And has she now been charged with involuntary manslaughter? No, that's not true: This is a fictional story that was published by the satire website worldnewsdailyreport.com. The website has clear disclaimers that its stories are not true. The story has been copied by several other websites that do not label satire clearly and the story has gone viral again in November of 2021.

The fictional story about Annabelle Gaston originated from an article (archived here) published by worldnewsdailyreport.com on October 17, 2019, under the title "480-POUND WOMAN CHARGED WITH INVOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER AFTER HUSBAND DIED WHILE PERFORMING ORAL SEX." It opened:

An Ohio woman has been sentenced to involuntary manslaughter after her spouse was found dead minutes after he had performed oral sex onto her.

The photos used to illustrate the fake story were taken from a true love story that was featured in a May 29, 2019, article published by dailymail.co.uk. That article is titled, "Woman who used to self-harm because of her size 30 frame reveals she now loves her body thanks to being in a mixed-weight relationship with her slim husband." It tells the story about a couple who met through an online video game and eventually married.

The fictional World News Daily Report article also features a photo captioned:

Annabelle Gaston's lawyer, James Caan, says he hopes to appeal the 10 years and six-month sentence given by the judge for her "reckless conduct."

That caption is entirely made up. The photo shows Adam S. Weiss, a real lawyer whose interview about his book, "Lateral Lawyer," was posted on YouTube on November 14, 2014. This is not the first time World News Daily Report has used this image of Weiss as a stand-in for a fictional lawyer. The photo also appears in a 2016 fictional story titled, "ALABAMA: PRO-LIFE LAWYER CLAIMS MASTURBATION IS 'UNCONSTITUTIONNAL,' " about a fictional Alabama Lawyer, James O'Keefe. Lead Stories debunked that story on May 13, 2016.

The website World News Daily Report is a humor website specialized in posting hoaxes and made-up stories. The disclaimer on their website is clear about that even though you have to scroll all the way down the page to find it:

World News Daily Report assumes all responsibility for the satirical nature of its articles and for the fictional nature of their content. All characters appearing in the articles in this website - even those based on real people - are entirely fictional and any resemblance between them and any person, living, dead or undead, is purely a miracle.

On March 20, 2019, the site added a new header that included the slogan "Where facts don't matter" to make it clearer to casual visitors the published content is fictional:

factsdontmatter3.png

The site often uses images stolen without attribution from real news websites, sometimes showing real people who have nothing to do with the story, for example here:

Woman Says Newborn Photo Stolen for Satirical Fake News Story

It is run by Janick Murray-Hall and Olivier Legault, who also run the satirical Journal de Mourréal, a satirical site spoofing the (real) Journal de Montréal. Very often their stories feature an image showing a random mugshot found in a mugshot gallery on the internet or on a stock photo website superimposed over a background of flashing police lights or crime scene tape.

Articles from the site are frequently copied (sometimes even months or years later) by various fake news websites that omit the satire disclaimer and present the information as real.

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  Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson lives with her family and pets on a small farm in Southeastern Indiana. She founded a Facebook page and a blog called “Exploiting the Niche” in 2017 to help others learn about manipulative tactics and avoid scams on social media. Since then she has collaborated with journalists in the USA, Canada and Australia and since December 2019 she works as a Social Media Authenticity Analyst at Lead Stories.


 

Read more about or contact Sarah Thompson

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