- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 12, 2006

GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. (AP) — The library books on multiple births crowded the couple’s coffee table. The bedroom-turned-nursery awaited the arrival of six newborns.

But in the end, authorities say Sarah and Kris Everson never had the sextuplets as claimed. All they had was what appears to be a big lie.

The couple’s dramatic story had holes in it from the start — from their mysterious withholding of information for more than a month to the unanimous response of area hospitals that they hadn’t helped deliver the newborns.

On Tuesday, authorities said the mystery had been solved — the entire tale was deemed a hoax aimed at tapping the generosity of others to pay the couple’s mounting bills.

“I have never dealt with anything like this,” Police Chief Aaron Ambrose said. “The level of fraud like this involving people, I have not.”

Gary Bradley, the city administrator, said charges against the Eversons were forthcoming. Prosecutors had not determined how much the couple profited from the scam or whether they would qualify for charges beyond the municipal level.

The Eversons claimed to have given birth to four boys and two girls on March 8. The babies were apparently in intensive care.

The tale exploded in the local spotlight Monday when the Examiner in Independence ran on its front page a photograph of the couple holding six one-piece baby outfits and announcing the births.

Those who heard the Eversons’ sad story of tight finances set up a Web site to solicit contributions — including a van, washer and dryer, cash and gift certificates. A real estate agent was even working to find the family new housing.

Hours before admitting it was a scam, Mrs. Everson showed an Associated Press reporter pictures of her in maternity clothes, her baring a huge pregnant-looking midsection and even sonogram images she said were of her infants. She showed off a tiny nursery, a closet full of baby clothes and the tiny diapers premature newborns must wear.

She said the story of her children’s births was being kept secret by a court order enacted because a member of her husband’s family was trying to kill the Eversons and their sextuplets.

“I’m so afraid they’re not going to make it,” Mrs. Everson said. “Nobody understands how hard this is. I know that they’re here. I know what I had to go through to get them here.”

She said a detective began questioning her Tuesday evening; Mr. Bradley and Chief Ambrose said the Eversons were interviewed at the police station for about an hour, during which they revealed the story was a scam. They were released pending charges.

Reached by phone late Tuesday, Mrs. Everson offered no explanation. “I’m not talking to anybody right now,” she said, “because nobody gets it.”

The Web site soliciting gifts was taken down Tuesday night.

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