THE case of missing hiker Cian McLaughlin has taken a twist after a social media influencer called in false tips to authorities.
The Wyoming woman has now been banned from Grand Teton National Park after she provided investigators with false information about McLaughlin's whereabouts shortly before her disappearance.
The National Parks Service says Wyoming resident Heather Mycoskie “knowingly” filed a false report and provided authorities with false information.
The 40-year-old woman gave authorities false information shortly after the hiker went missing.
McLaughlin disappeared one year ago on June 8, 2021 while hiking at Grand Teton National Park.
A few weeks after McLaughlin’s disappearance, Mycoskie relayed false information to investigators working on the case.
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“Heather Mycoskie provided false information to investigators about seeing an individual matching the description of missing hiker Cian McLaughlin,” the National Parks Service said in a statement.
According to the parks service, Mycoskie lied to investigators about seeing McLaughlin on the day of her disappearance.
As a part of her false tip, Mycoskie directed investigators towards a lake and apparently provided them with a “very detailed description” of the location.
“Mycoskie provided a very detailed description of McLaughlin and stated she had a discussion with him in which he shared where he lived, where he was from, and his place of employment,” the National Parks Service said.
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“The subsequent investigation revealed Mycoskie never saw anyone matching McLaughlin’s description on June 8, 2021.”
According to witness reports purposefully offered the misleading tips and lied about seeing the missing hiker.
The witnesses said she led investigators down the wrong path because she wanted to prolong the search.
“All other potential sightings of McLaughlin were on the trail system that leads towards Garnet Canyon, Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes, and Delta Lake,” the parks service said.
Leading investigators on a wild goose chase came at a high expense for law enforcement resources.
The National Parks Service says more than 530 hours were spent on the endeavor that ensued after the tip came in.
“This wasted valuable time that could have been focused on searching areas of higher probability,” the parks service said.
“And it cost the Federal Government approximately $17,600.”
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In addition to a five year ban from visiting Grand Teton, Mycoskie has also been ordered to pay financial restitution.
She will have to pay back $17,600 to the Department of Treasury, making up for the government costs from her misleading tip.
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