That Kennett Square ‘Needles in Candy’ Story Wasn’t Real

Two kids have recanted their story about finding needles in Halloween candy. The juveniles won't face charges.

Authorities in Chester County announced today that reports of needles found in Halloween candy in the borough were “unfounded.”

In a statement, Chester County Detectives said both children who made the reports have recanted their stories after an “intensive investigation.” On Facebook, the Kennett Square Police Department department originally said the pair would face charges in juvenile court of filing a false police report; a later release from authorities said the pair had been released to their respective parents and no formal charges would filed.

“Law enforcement is always in a difficult situation in these potential hoax cases, which seem to occur every year,” Chester County DA Larry Hogan said in a release (see the full document below). “The public has to be notified immediately as a matter of safety. However, as anybody who has raised kids knows, it sometimes takes some work and time to get the full truth behind an initial story. In this case, law enforcement and the media did a sound job of balancing the need for safety with pursuing the ultimate truth. At this point, we are simply glad that we can assure the parents and children of Chester County that Halloween remains a safe and fun event.”

Both reports came from separate young children. In the first, an 11-year-old put needles from her mom’s sewing kit into her Twix bars; she got the idea from an adult who showed her a picture of needles in candy and told her to be safe while trick-or-treating. The second report came from a 12-year-old who saw a media report of the initial hoax and created his own. He showed his sister, who reported it to police.

The Chester County DA’s office said the two families, who were not identified, “apologized for the incident, understanding the serious impact it had on the community.”

This is the second “tampered candy” story in the area this year to be proven false. A 37-year-old man from Blackwood, New Jersey, was arrested earlier this week after posting a photo on social media about needles he said he found in Halloween candy. Police eventually investigated Robert Ledrew’s post and found he fabricated the story and placed needles in the candy himself after seeing the Kennett Square report.

Did the tale from Kennett Square inspire any other false reports? As Ratter wrote this week, that story was shared across the country by news outlets — primarily local TV stations, even ones with no connection to the Philadelphia area. The Facebook post on it by ABC 7 Chicago was shared more than 17,000 times. This story was everywhere.

And yet it was a hoax, which actually happens every year. “Poison candy” stories are always a hoax. And while there was a man in Minneapolis in 2000 who was charged with putting a needle in candy he gave out, Snopes reports a researcher found almost all of the needles or razorblades in candy stories are hoaxes.

There have been several additional reports of adulterated candy in our area; none have led to criminal charges. Snopes actually has a full roundup. A woman in South Jersey posted on Facebook after she says she found what looked like a nail or sewing needle in her kids’ candy; a Bucks County woman says a child eating a candy bar almost bit into a razor blade. In Indiana County across the state, police are investigating another report.

“I’ve been studying this since 1958, and the first thing you find is that there really aren’t that many cases reported, and there are never reports of fatalities or serious injuries. The dangerous object is always discovered before any damage is done,” Delaware professor Joel Best told Yahoo! “You can’t prove a negative — that is, I can’t prove that a child has never been injured by a needle in their chocolate — but I’ve never heard about it, and there certainly hasn’t been a high body count.”

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