Editor’s Note: On Wednesday morning, Antigo police announced they verified the YouTube video was fake and unrelated “to an actual abduction or any illegal activity.” Cops say they contacted the producer of the clip and the two actors, who said they didn’t intend to depict the missing girl.
Wisconsin cops are investigating a creepy YouTube video that they say could be linked to a missing teenager.
Kayla Berg was 15 when she vanished in August 2009 from Antigo, after a friend dropped her off at a condemned house in Wausau, about 34 miles away. The high-schooler reportedly told the pal her boyfriend lived there.
Now Antigo police say they’re probing the footage—posted two months after Kayla disappeared —for clues into the cold case.
The video, titled “Hi Walter! I got a new gf today!,” begins with a bespectacled man speaking manically into a camera about shopping with his new steady. The footage then cuts to a woman who appears to be held captive in a dark room.
Kayla’s mother, Hope Sprenger, fears the girl in the twisted recording could be her missing daughter.
“[It] sounded like her, looked like her, it gave me chills,” Sprenger told WAOW. “Disturbing. It made me sick to my stomach.”
“I thought it looked a lot like her,” she added. “I pray to God it’s not.”
Antigo Police Chief Eric Roller told The Daily Beast an out-of-state tipster alerted him of the video last weekend. The one-minute recording went viral this summer with 1 million views, as Internet users tried to debunk it or even make connections to Kayla’s case. It was the user’s only post, and YouTube removed it Tuesday afternoon.
“Hi, Walter, I was at the mall today and guess what happened? I met the most wonderful girl,” the man, named Patrick, sounds off.
“We went shopping at J.C. Penney’s and she tried on a lot of clothes. And she ended up buying a whole lot of them, you know what I mean,” the man says with glee. “And then we decided to go and take a look at some of the jewelry at Kay Jewelers.”
He continues, “She picked out this most awesome necklace. The most amazing necklace I’ve ever seen. And I know she wanted me to buy it for her because she kept on looking at me and kept on giving me that look. You know the look.”
“And then we got kind of tired of the mall and I brought her back to my place. I know she hates cameras, Walter, but I’m going to show you her anyway. You ready?”
The camera then shows the man opening a locked door. When he opens it, a young woman screams. She appears to be bound and gagged.
Roller told The Daily Beast the girl in the video resembles Kayla and he’s going to keep searching until he knows for sure.
“Obviously we want to know who that subject is in that video so we can determine if it’s a hoax or not,” Roller said. “It may help somebody. Somebody can identify this or come forward and say, ‘Yeah, it’s me. I did it. It was dumb.’”
“That’s pretty much the best case... to try to find that person and go from there,” he added.
The mystery man could live in nearby Marathon County, WAOW reported. Cops visited the residence of a man believed to be the YouTuber on Monday night but he wasn’t home, according to the TV station.
Roller told The Daily Beast police found the man Tuesday morning but that he was cooperative and didn’t match the person in the video. Still, Antigo cops are combing through scores of tips they’ve received since the footage made news this week.
On Monday, Kayla’s brother Jimmy took to Facebook to ask people to stop sharing the disturbing video.
“Ok...for everyone messaging me...yes I’ve seen the video...and to be honest, I almost had a panic attack at work..shut down my machines and had to go sit outside,” he wrote.
“If your wanting my opinion let’s just say this...we’ve contacted the FBI because our local PD doesn’t have the experience needed for this,” the brother continued. “Hope that answers your questions. Now please stop blowing up my phone.”
According to the 2010 CNN segment, Kayla and her brother spent time between their mother’s and father’s homes. And Kayla sometimes walked or ran between the houses to get in shape for high-school gymnastics.
The day Kayla vanished, her brother’s friend picked her up from her father’s house at 8:30 p.m. He then took her to the Antigo McDonald’s, where her best friend worked. Kayla ran inside and briefly chatted with her pal, CNN reported.
Then the 24-year-old driver took her to her boyfriend’s home in Wausau around 10 p.m., Chief Roller said in the segment.
At the time, Roller said there was little information to go on and that Kayla’s friends were uncooperative with cops. The boyfriend was initially a person of interest but was never charged, Roller told The Daily Beast.
Kayla’s mom told CNN she didn’t approve of the beau, who was 19 years old. She questioned why her daughter would request a ride to the house, which was condemned by the health department and undergoing renovations.
Sprenger said she reported Kayla missing six days later, after a “miscommunication” between her and Kayla’s father. “I thought she was at her dad’s... Her brother said she was over at her friend’s house,” she told CNN.
The driver, the last known person to see Kayla, was charged with second-degree reckless endangerment in connection to her disappearance in October 2009. He pleaded not guilty, and the case was dismissed two years later, court records show.
Chief Roller told WSAW the 24-year-old was driving around with Kayla the day she vanished and smoking marijuana.
According to the CNN episode, Sprenger asked the driver who gave Kayla a ride and where she went. She received two text messages from him before his family lawyered up.
“I had said, ‘Hey, where’s Kayla, and where did you drop her off?’” Sprenger said. “He said, ‘I don’t know.’”