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- Stockton, California, police are investigating five killings they believe may be related. But a council member for the city didn’t say there’s a “serial killer” there, as recent social media posts claim.
On Sept. 28, police in Stockton, California, revealed that they are investigating similarities between recent homicides in the city.
"We do not know if it is one suspect or multiple suspects," the Stockton Police Department said in a statement posted that day on Facebook.
But the same day, a different statement circulating on social media and attributed to Stockton City Council Member Kimberly Warmsley declared the deaths the work of a serial killer.
"Serial killer in Stockton ****FROM COUNCILWOMAN KIMBERLY WORMSELY (NOW!!!!)," reads a Sept. 28 Instagram post that misspelled Warmsley’s name. "Be careful! Tomorrow we are having a press conference. There's a serial killer in Stockton. They are targeting women and men who are by themselves so far 7 shootings. Serial killer wears all black and a mask etc. Connected to Bay Area and in/around Stockton. Killings have occurred between 11 pm and 7 AM. Investigation is on-going. Please be safe and spread the word to family and friends."
The Instagram post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
But Warmsley, a Democrat, said she didn’t write or authorize the statement that’s been attributed to her, the Stockton Record reported. Warmsley said it took statements she made on social media out of context, according to the newspaper.
On Sept. 28, Warmsley posted on Facebook that "there have been a series of unusual activities, circumstances and patterns of homicides that are deeply concerning and alarming." She said officers were "investigating the relationships between the incidents, the victims, and the suspects" and that "currently, the evidence does not point to or prove whether there is one, or multiple suspects."
Later, on Sept. 30, the Stockton Police Department posted on Facebook a statement from Police Chief Stanley McFadden about the investigation. McFadden said officers believed that five killings since July are related and that a "person of interest" has been identified. The deaths involved men who were killed while they were alone "in the evening or early morning hours."
But that doesn’t corroborate claims that Warmsley said there’s a serial killer in Stockton. She denies that she made that statement, and we found no evidence to contradict that. We rate the claim False.
Instagram post, Sept. 28, 2022
Stockton Record, Police investigating string of late-night killings in Stockton, Sept. 28, 2022
Stockton Police Department Facebook post, Sept. 30, 2022
Stockton Police Department Facebook post, Sept. 28, 2022
Kimberly Warmsley Facebook post, Sept. 28, 2022
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