DENVER -- We went to air February 7 with a story after police issued an alert about a man they accused of breaking into a home and taking a "selfie" while the woman who lived there put her children to bed.
The “selfie burglar” was accused of some pretty shocking crimes. It turns out the whole thing was a case of mistaken identity, and the man was not a criminal at all.
But the story went viral.
"We've got to catch this creepy guy,” said Nancy Grace. The queen of drama picked the story up on February 8. "Word to the wise, this has a text book serial killer's calling card," she said.
But it wasn't until February 19, two full weeks later, that Denver police acknowledged the mistake.
They now say the woman who called police thought the man in the picture on her cell phone was standing in front of her drapes in her home.
But when police went there they realized the drapes were different.
Though they aren’t certain, they suspect the man's photo ended up on her phone because on Facebook they have mutual friends in California.
FOX31 Denver found the man on Facebook and at his request we are not identifying him. Understandably he would only issue the following statement.
“While I do feel this story was mishandled by multiple entities, I do not wish to participate in any public stories. I have spent much of the last days in fear and based on the last two weeks I have no confidence in the way this story will be handled with or without my participation. I have taken great care to this point to keep my name away from this story and wish it remain that way for fear of any confusion with the original story.”
So what did happen?
Police records we uncovered show a day after the story aired, the man saw his image and immediately called police.
The report states, "A man called from California stating he was the person in the photo, but it couldn't have been him because he was in California."
For four days police failed to call him back and continued to run with the story.
On February 12 the man sends this email to the Denver police public information office. He begs, “It's been four days, and the story is spreading. I’ve seen the story on local and national news. This letter serves as my notice of a full and visible retraction to fully repair my reputation.”
We contacted Denver police for comment, but we were told it was too late in the day Thursday to get answers to our questions.