Police: Video thought to show teen's kidnapping a hoax


USA Today Network
Arielle Hines, Wausau (Wis.) Daily Herald
9:27 p.m. EDT October 12, 2016

ANTIGO, Wis. — A disturbing YouTube video that friends thought depicted a Wisconsin teen who has been missing for seven years has been determined to be a hoax, police say.

Kayla Berg, a then 15-year-old girl from Antigo, disappeared from the Wausau area on Aug. 11, 2009. Police learned about a YouTube video called “Hi Walter- I have a new gf,” using an abbreviated term for girlfriend, that since has been removed for violating YouTube terms of service.

Police first reported the video was created in October 2009, but later learned it was created two years later. The video showed a man introducing a person he calls his new girlfriend, kept locked up in a small basement bathroom and screaming “Why are you doing this?” when the man opens the door to the room.

But investigators were able to identify the video’s producer, actor and actress in the video and determined the video has no connection to Berg’s disappearance. The video was created as part of a series and the creators didn’t intend to depict Berg, police said. The video doesn’t show any crime or an actual abduction, police said Tuesday.

James Berg, Kayla’s older brother, said he has mixed emotions about the video. On one hand, it would have been awful if the woman screaming for help in the video had turned out to be his sister. But if the video were real, at least police would have a starting point to finding Kayla, he said.

This isn’t the first time Kayla’s family has been through the highs and lows of seeming breakthroughs in the case. James Berg said it’s not unusual for people to contact him with things they have seen on social media that might be related to his sister, but never has anything on the scale of the video happened before. Publicity about it has caused his phone to ring almost nonstop for the past several days and he has been contacted by people from all over the world, he said.

Berg said he is happy the video has put his sister in the spotlight, but the experience has been overwhelming for him and his family. He has been overwhelmed with guilt since the day his sister went missing because she wanted to go to a party with him that night, but he didn’t want her to come. Telling her no is something he has regretted every day for the past seven years.

Berg said he wants people to keep sharing media articles about his sister. He said he would love to see his sister again, but at this point, he just wants to know what happened to her.

“This video has given us (him and his mom) everything we want, except the one thing we really want, answers,” Berg said.

Follow Arielle Hines on Twitter: @theariellehines

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