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Volunteers try to get facts out on Abigail Hernandez case after CNN report
Volunteers, family and friends of missing Abigail Hernandez were troubled that HLN's Nancy Grace tweeted half of a phone number for the FBI tipline on Tuesday night. DAN SEUFERT
CONWAY – Family and friends of Abigail Hernandez are very happy that CNN Headline News anchor Nancy Grace chose for a second time to highlight the case of the missing Conway teenager in her television broadcast Tuesday night.
They just wish she’d had more of the facts straight.
In her program Tuesday from 8 to 9 p.m., Grace spoke on national television about Hernandez, who was last seen walking away from Kennett High School after school on Oct. 9.
“I am incredibly, incredibly appreciative of the coverage. I hope to see more national level media cover Abby’s story. It’s all about getting Abby’s name and face and story out there,” said Paul Kirsch, a marketing professional at Rapid Insight, Inc. in Conway who is leading volunteer efforts to find Abigail.
But Grace teased her segment on Hernandez by saying she was a cheerleader. In fact, Hernandez has never been a cheerleader but was a track athlete.
“She was never a part of any of our cheerleading squads,” said Kennett High School athletic director Kerry Brady.
“She was coming to us this year as a freshman, and there are no cheerleading squads below the high school level (in Conway).”
Zenya Hernandez, Abigail’s mother, said late Wednesday morning, her daughter “has been a skier and a runner, but she was never part of any organized sports, she was not a cheerleader.”
Grace then presented a radio reporter, Michael Board, from WOAI in San Antonio, Texas, on her broadcast, who angered some local Facebook posters by calling Abigail’s boyfriend, 14-year-old Jimmy Campbell of Conway, “her little boyfriend.”
Near the end of the segment, another reporter explained a rumor about Abigail getting into a car with someone at the time of her disappearance, citing “unconfirmed reports” and saying “the suspicion is…”
In addition at the end of her broadcast, Grace tweeted from her account @NancyGraceHLN, for people to call the FBI tip line, but in the tweet she gave the phone number as 1-800-FBI. Despite numerous tweets back to Grace about the incorrect number – and the inaccurate information presented in the broadcast – brought no response from Grace. The correct number is 1-800-CALLFBI.
FBI Agent Kieran Ramsey, who has been leading the FBI’s search efforts in the case, said he had not seen the Grace broadcast. Previously, Ramsey and law enforcement have cautioned news reporters to avoid the many rumors that have been floating around town for more than three weeks.
“I’m not going to comment on anything Nancy Grace reports,” Ramsey said, adding that law enforcement has no new updates on the case.
Zenya Hernandez said she hadn’t seen the broadcast, but hoped “accurate information gets out” in the search for her daughter.
Kirsch said he has “mixed feelings” about the broadcast by Grace, who had mentioned the case in a previous broadcast as well.
“They got some of the facts of the story just plain wrong,” he said in a post on his site for the search effort, www.bringabbyhome.com Wednesday morning.
“I have heard rumors myself as well, some pretty wild. I won’t mention any of them here because I don’t want them to get legs again, but believe me, they are pretty bizarre. The problem is, the rumors and the incorrect reporting end up becoming distractions from the real goal – which is for the necessary facts to come out so Abby can be found.”
Messages and calls to Grace and HLN have not been returned.
Ramsey said law enforcement officials hope to have a news conference at the end of this week with a one-month update on the case, though there is no news to report, he said.
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