Clayton County, Ga police officers were having trouble contacting Anna Lamb-Creasey to tell her of the death of her son in a traffic accident, so they sent her a message through Facebook, which ended up in the notorious "Other" folder for 20 days.
Anna Lamb-Creasey had been worried for weeks, as she had been unable to contact her 30-year-old son, Rickie Lamb. She had contacted hospitals and jails. She left messages for him on his Facebook page, saying, "Rickie where are you? Love mom."
As the weeks went by, she worried more and more, until finally, and purely by chance, she found a message in the "Other" folder of her private messages on Facebook.
We have probably all come across that notorious folder. If someone who is not a Facebook friend tries to contact you, the message goes straight in there, and unless you think to go searching, you may never find it. Under Facebook's new money-making schemes, if people pay $1 their message will go direct to you, but not everyone thinks of doing that, and they may never know that their message did not reach you. This was the case here.
Now Lamb-Creasey is furious with the police for using this method of contacting her.
It turns out that Lamb-Creasey's son, Rickie, was struck and killed by a car on January 25. While the driver was not charged, the police say that they had exhausted all avenues before trying to contact Lamb-Creasey through Facebook.
Rather strangely, they used the private Facebook account of one of their employees, named "Misty Hancock". In the message she identified herself as Lt. Shindler and left a number where they could be reached.
As "Misty Hancock" had a profile photo of herself posing with Atlanta rapper T.I., who has served prison time in the past, at first Lamb-Creasey didn't take the message seriously.
"Misty Hancock, and I'm like who is a Misty Hancock? That sounds like a stripper’s name or something," she said.
However, when she did phone the number, she was told that her son was dead and the circumstances surrounding his death.
Lamb-Creasey told Atlanta's News Channel 2, "They told me that they did the best that they can do, but I'm not sure about that. They can track a criminal down, they couldn't track me down? They could have done better."
"I've been on my job 13 years. They could have found me."
If the police had used more traditional methods of contacting her, or if Facebook stopped holding its members ransom for their private messages, possibly Lamb-Creasey would have known sooner, and Rickie's body would not have waited in the county morgue for 20 days.
Chief Greg Porter of the Clayton County police told Channel 2 that he was unhappy with the way the incident had been handled and that he is now making changes:
"I've since instructed my staff to create a Facebook page to try to eliminate issues such as this," Porter said.
However, if the messages they send from this new page also end up in the "Other" folder, is this going to help?