This is one of the most difficult things I've ever had to post on theCHIVE and I'm rushing to get it into your hands so pardon me if there's any spelling errors here, Chivers.
Last week a profoundly deaf quadriplegic with cerebral palsy became an internet sensation. Dave on Wheel's positive outlook on life and quirky sense of humor was infectious. I had followed his Twitter for a while after being turned on to it by Sarah Hill and Erin Willett. The two have huge hearts, loved Dave's positive message, and had been online friends with Dave for months which helped Dave's Twitter grow from 8 to 800 followers.
Then Last Monday I decided to post some of Dave's most popular Tweets on theCHIVE, including "My mom and @NicholeRose85 waiting for me to fall asleep so they can leave lol. I should fake it so they go have a life."
Within hours, Dave's Twitter Machine exploded, he gained thousands of fans. His touching story was picked up by everybody from ABC News to RadarOnline to the NYDailyNews. Kim Kardashian even quoted Dave:
That same day (even before I published the story), Dave announced on his Twitter that he wasn’t feeling well. For me, this wasn’t entirely surprising. The week before, Dave Tweeted that he had checked into the hospital with shortness of breath. This was also confirmed when Dave’s sister, Nichole Rose, took to her Twitter to tell Dave to stay strong. This will not be the last time you’ll hear about Nichole Rose.
I posted updates on Dave throughout the week on theCHIVE. Dave’s condition appeared to be deteriorating quickly. Nichole posted that he brother had slipped into a coma early Thursday morning. Later the same evening, Nichole announced that Dave had passed away. Dave’s inspiring final words from his blog post quickly went viral.
Things get weird:
As soon as Dave ‘died’, Sarah Hill booked a flight to Los Angeles, presumably to attend a funeral in Newport Beach, about an hour south of LA. I picked Sarah up from the airport, she was beside herself, so was Erin.
I took Sarah to see Erin Willett, the two had been in constant contact with Dave over the past few months via Twitter’s direct message. When we arrived at Erin’s house, Erin showed us an email she’d received from a fellow Chivette. The email didn’t read like the thousands of well-wishing emails Erin had received that day. Instead, the email raised a couple key questions:
1. The email wondered out loud how a person who can only type 4 words-per-minute could carry on such lively conversations, responding so quickly to so many people.
2. She linked us to a local news article from Danville, VA, which contained a photo of David Rose. But this article, written in 2010, was about a young man with cerebral palsy named Hunter Dunn? Is it possible that David Rose was using Hunter Dunn’s photos? If so, why? – To retain his anonymity? Is David Rose actually Hunter Dunn? To our knowledge Hunter Dunn is alive and well today. The links provided more questions than answers.
We did some digging of our own and found a social media website called Stickam containing the same images and some additional photos of David that we’d never seen under the name ‘Dave on Wheels’. This social media entry was made in 2008 and predated the Danville article. This set our minds at ease a bit.
The girls were set to meet with Dave’s sister, Nichole, on Saturday. Hopefully we’d get more answers then. But when Nichole DM’d Erin and Sarah with a feeble excuse for why she couldn’t meet with them, we took steps to hire a private investigator. We also signed up for the website Archives.com, a real-time death record locator. Nobody by the name of David Rose had died recently. Something about the situation seemed terribly rotten at this point.
Who is David Rose?
David Rose had been on Facebook since 2007, he’d been on Twitter since 2010, sometimes Tweeting a dozen times/day. And his sister Nichole had been on Twitter for some time while as well. They Tweeted back and forth quite often in perfect concert. Sometimes Nichole was late to pick up Dave from his physical therapy and would text him to sit tight. They’d go to the mall together, Tweeting back and forth. If this story was indeed fake, it was one of the most sophisticated ruses we’ve ever seen; this took years to cultivate. It would require somebody willing to create multiple false identities. Somebody with not only intelligence, but someone with deep knowledge of cerebral palsy, ASL, and the Newport Beach area. Somebody very, very sick.
Then late last night, a girl wrote a blog outing Dave on wheels. One of the accusations cited a graph that proved that nearly all of Dave’s tweets were posted from TweetDeck, a social media dashboard to manage multiple Twitter and Facebook accounts. Somebody using a Tobii ocular reader would never use TweetDeck. But somebody posing as Dave could easily use the Deck, somebody like Nichole.
The other shoe dropped an hour ago with the first comment below the ‘Dave on Wheels Exposed’ article on Blogspot exposing the deceit. In the comments below, there is an apology written by Nichole Rose herself. Nichole, it appears, is actually a man. He created Dave as “A character, a part of my psyche. No celebrity or fame was intended by this, it all came fast and was a total surprise… (I did it) to inspire people to live a better life but the public knowledge it came under, this false pretense takes it all away.”
Damn right it does. Read the entire entry right here.
In the end, this story played out more like a Hollywood film than real life. We’ve all been victimized by this disturbed individual. Here at theCHIVE, we often post funny and inspiring stories. It never dawned on us that somebody with such an established internet footprint would actually be mascarading as a deaf, physically handicap person. It would seem absurd to believe somebody would go so far as to fake a death.
I believe in the inherent goodness in the human condition. I’ve posted hundreds of sick and injured people in the DAR who need support. It doesn’t occur for me to write back, “I need proof that you have cancer before I post this.” But I overlooked that there are bad people out there, people who would go to such huge lengths to deceive the masses. All of us here, including and especially Erin and Sarah, are deeply hurt, angered, and saddened by this. And I’m sharing the truth as quickly as it arrives at my doorstep, everybody deserves to know what happened here.