(October 24, 2008)--Pittsburgh police now say a 20-year-old McCain campaign volunteer from Central Texas made up a story about a black man robbing her, pinning her to the ground and carving the letter ”B” into her face in a politically inspired attack.
Police now believe the volunteer’s injuries were self-inflicted.
The volunteer’s original story had led to statements of dismay and sympathy from both the McCain and Obama campaigns as well as phone calls from both Sen. John McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin.
Maurita Bryant, the assistant chief of the police department's investigations division, said Ashley Todd of Colege Station is being charged with making a false report to police.
“This wasted so much time,” Bryant said.
“Detectives have been working through the night just to verify the information that we suspected was false from the beginning,” she said.
“It could have really blown up into something—a national incident,” Bryant said.
“I’m glad that we quickly resolved the case,” she said.
Earlier Friday, police said Todd had changed her story.
Police also said bank surveillance footage didn’t show Todd at the ATM where she initially said she was attacked.
Police spokeswoman Diane Richard said investigators gave Todd a lie-detector test and are now "looking at some inconsistencies" in her story.
Todd, who is white, was saying earlier Friday she was knocked unconscious and didn’t remember being cut in the face.
She said earlier Friday she only discovered the wound later.
Todd had originally told investigators she was robbed at an ATM Wednesday night after leaving a GOP phone bank.
She said the robber, whom she described only as a black man who was about 6-foot-4, held a knife to her neck, stole $60 from her and then punched and kicked her.
Before he fled, she said he carved a “B’ on the right side of her face.
A campaign spokesperson told KDKA-TV the robber said, “Oh you're with McCain… you're with the McCain campaign? I'm going to teach you a lesson.'"
In an official statement the McCain campaign had said, "We're shaken up by this. It's sick and disgusting."
The Obama-Biden campaign had released a statement that said, "This is a horrendous act of violence. Our thoughts and prayers are with the young woman for her to make a speedy recovery, and we hope that the person who perpetrated this crime is swiftly apprehended and brought to justice."