Fact check: Handful of Huntington, West Virginia, murders are unrelated

The claim: A serial killer is active in Huntington, West Virginia

Several social media users have recently issued warnings about a purported killer in West Virginia’s second-largest city. 

“There (sic) saying we have a serial killer in Huntington please be careful lady’s! (sic),” reads a Sept. 10 Facebook post.

“Ladies I recommend not going out after dark alone or anywhere where there isn’t anybody that can see you because there is a serial killer loose in Huntington,” reads part of a Sept. 12 post

The Sept. 12 post goes on to claim the killer brutalized and burned two women before dumping their bodies on railroad tracks.

A previous version of the claim, which said a serial killer murdered seven girls in Huntington, was shared nearly 500 times in less than a day before it was deleted. 

But local police said there’s no reason to believe a serial killer is on the loose. The Huntington Police Department has made an arrest in each of the four homicide cases so far this year.

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USA TODAY reached out to users who shared the claim for comment. One of the users said the claim was “just a rumor,” while another said officials were “still investigating and not much has been revealed as of yet.” 

Handful of murders in Huntington are ‘completely unrelated’

In a statement posted to Facebook on Sept. 12, the department said there had been a total of four “completely unrelated” murders in the city since the start of the year. At that point, an arrest had been made in three of them.

“The fourth incident is being investigated thoroughly at this time, and there is no indication it is connected to a serial killer,” the department said. 

In that case, a woman’s body was found near railroad tracks on the morning of Sept. 9, according to WSAZ-TV in Huntington. A 31-year-old man was arrested several days later in connection with the woman’s death, the station reported.

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The recent social media posts are not the first time Huntington has been the target of such claims. 

In 2020, an unfounded claim that a serial killer had murdered up to seven women in the city began spreading on social media, according to Courtney Hessler, a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch.

USA TODAY has previously debunked various claims of serial killers targeting communities across the U.S. 

Our rating: False

Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that a serial killer is active in Huntington. Huntington police said there is no indication a serial killer is targeting people in the area. The handful of murders that have happened in the city since the start of the year are not connected, and an arrest has been made in each case.

Our fact-check sources:

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