“I drove over to a place where I was safe and quickly rolled down my window and got the shirt off”
This one sounds like the premise for a horror movie. And it ended up being about as accurate. But for one young Michigan woman the incident felt terrifyingly real and created a major bit of viral news. However, according to local police, it all turned out to be a “prank” gone horribly wrong.
19-year-old Ashley Hardacre posted a harrowing account to her Facebook page about how she found a flannel t-shirt tied to her car windshield wipers. As it was late at night and she was walking alone, she drove all the way home before pausing to remove the shirt. In her since-deleted post, Hardacre wrote:
“As some of you know I work at a store in the Mall out in Flint. I worked a closing shift tonight so me and the girls I work with always walk out together to make sure we are safe in the parking lot. I got to my car and locked the doors behind me immediately as I always do and noticed that there was a blue flannel shirt on my windshield. There were two cars near me and one was running so I immediately felt uneasy and knew I couldn’t get out to get it off.”
The post immediately went viral, being shared more than 100,000 times and drawing national media attention. Hardacre said she had heard stories of people using the shirt tie as a tactic to assault women who were vulnerable while pausing to remove the shirts:
“At first I thought maybe someone had just thrown it on my car for some odd reason. I used my windshield wipers to try to get them off but the shirt was completely wrapped around my wiper blade. I had seen posts lately about people finding things under their windshield wipers in the burton/Flint area as an attempt to get girls out of their cars and distracted. Luckily I knew better than to remove the shirt with cars around me so I drove over to a place where I was safe and quickly rolled down my window and got the shirt off.”
However, some people began challenging her story, accusing Hardacre of making it up, which she flatly denied:
“I don’t know why the shirt was on my car but it had to have been intentional the way it was put on there. I really can’t think of another reason as to why someone would put it on my car. Tomorrow I am informing security of the situation and making them walk me to my car from now on. It definitely frightened me a little bit I’m so glad my parents had informed me that it was happening in our area, I just never thought it would potentially happen to my car.”
Flint Township Police Detective Sergeant Brad Wangler told a local CBS affiliate that no such incidents had been reported to the department.
And when police investigated they managed to track down the men in the car next to Hardacre’s thanks to some surveillance camera tapes. They admitted to putting the shirt on her car but said it was simply a “prank.”
“As a result of these interviews, they admitted to putting the shirt on the vehicle as a random prank,” a statement from the department reads. “Also, interior video surveillance at the Genesee Valley Center corroborated their presence at the mall.”
The men involved have since apologized to Hardacre.