Authorities say missing Scotland County newborn is hoax, arrest suspect

SCOTLAND COUNTY, NC (TERESAREPORTS) – The Scotland County Sheriff’s Office announced Friday that the multi-agency search for a missing infant and her mother was a hoax.

The picture of the infant was an image from social media, according to officials.

Danilla Mitzia “Missy” Bethea, 30, was arrested on 10 counts of Felony Obtaining Property by False Pretenses, and 1 count of Felony False Reports to a Law Enforcement Agency pertaining to a missing child, according to the sheriff’s office.

According to officials, investigators interviewed Bethea on Jan. 31, and again on Feb. 1. Bethea stated Morrison was safe, and that her baby was in the care of unknown third parties and was also safe. Investigators identified inconsistencies that gave concern to the safety of the infant, and the legitimacy of the care or caretakers who allegedly had the child.

Investigators believed the child was in danger, and was possibly sold or exchanged to parties engaged in elicit prostitution or human trafficking.

Danilla Mitzia “Missy” Bethea (Scotland County Sheriff’s Office)

The reports initially said Morrison was held against her will and provided information that led investigators to suspect may be victims of human trafficking or prostitution.

The report initially suggested that the newborn was sold for money or in exchange for elicit narcotics either by Morrisons consent or by force.

The Scotland County Sheriff’s Office said investigators determined the statements provided by Bethea were allegedly false.

The Scotland County Sheriff’s Office said Morrison was a fictional character, and there was no infant child named Lee Ann Morrison.

These false statements were allegedly made and provided for the purposes of receiving money, from the reporting party, who believed she was supporting an infant child in need, and one whom she believed she would gain custody or guardianship over, according to the sheriff’s office.

The Scotland County Sheriff’s Office extended sincere and deep gratitude to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Rockingham Police Department, Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, Fayetteville Police Department, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Bethea received a $100,000 secured bond, and is being held at the Scotland County Detention Facility.

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