This afternoon, August 29, we received an email from a woman named Taryn Wright. She introduced herself as a blogger who exposes fake stories about cancer and various illnesses online and informed us that Jeff D’Antonio’s blog was fake. Before we put up her entire email, here’s a bit of background.
In 2010, we posted a story called Miracle Child about Jeff D’Antonio’s childhood friendship with Jill, who died of breast cancer when she was 35. Before she died, she asked Jeff to adopt her daughter, Katie, and after she died, Jeff and his wife, Jenny did so. The story then jumps ahead to the winter of 2007-2008, when Jenny was pregnant and went into early labor. Jeff rushed her to the hospital through the blinding snowstorm. The upshot was that Jenny had suffered “placental disruption” and the baby was born three and a half months premature.
The physicians told Jeff and Jenny that the baby – Christina – would die within hours. Jeff wrote: He didn’t say “might die.” He didn’t say “maybe,” or “possibly,” or “probably.” He said she will die within hours. Her lungs were too underdeveloped, and there was no way for her to get enough oxygen to survive outside the womb. We begged him to tell us that there was still a chance, no matter how remote, but he was all but certain. He said it was only a matter of time.
We were heartbroken. After six years of waiting and hoping and praying for another baby, and coming this far along through a very long and difficult pregnancy, we just couldn’t believe we were going to have to say goodbye to her now. It was the most horrible moment of our lives.
In the story, Jill’s spiritual presence was pervasive and Jeff attributed that to the infant’s survival. The story had all the hallmarks of synchronicity and spirit communication.
In fact, here was one of Jeff’s comments about the post:
Jeff D’Antonio says:
Trish and Rob, thanks for sharing my story here.
I’m still a little shocked by what Christina said, and we still haven’t been able to get her to elaborate on it, but I do believe that her experience was real.
Jill and I were inseparable in life, and if it’s possible for her to remain here after her death and watch over me and my family, then I believe she would choose to do just that. That’s who she was, and the experience of knowing her for a lifetime has convinced me of it.
I always believed she was an angel, and that she was brought into my life for a reason. Now I’m all but certain of it.
We used the story in Synchronicity and the Other Side – p 68, A Healing Friendship. So I immediately read Taryn’s email to Rob:
Hi, my name is Taryn Wright and I write a blog exposing people who fake stories aboyt cancer and various other illnesses online. I’m sorry to tell you that the Jeff D’Antonio blog is fake. There is no Jill, no Jeff D’Antonio, no Katie or the rest of the family. You can read more at my blog.
If you have any questions, or want to tell me any information on “Jeff D’Antonio,” please feel free to email me back.
My first thought was, okay, someone has a beef against Jeff. This sort of thing had recently happened to my agent, Al Zuckerman, via twitter, where it was reported he had died. But Rob went to Jeff’s blog and read Jeff’s most recent post – August 27 – about how his adopted daughter, Katie, was going to be in a production of Bye-Bye Birdie at the Cheswick Theater. Rob Googled Cheswick Theater, but only found movie theaters by that name. But then he noticed a website for a Cheswick Company, which manufactures folk art and has a new product listed called the Bye-Bye Birdie pin cushion Clamp E pattern. We’re not exactly sure what that item is, but it certainly appears it’s where Jeff came up with his idea for Katie’s new role.
Rob then went back to Jeff’s blog and found this: his blog had been removed. Apparently someone who Taryn had contacted had written to Jeff, who realized the jig was up.
Click the link in Taryn’s email. We did. She illustrates how the photos Jeff’s uses in his sidebars actually came from other sites: the rock climber, the kayaker, the lonely man on hilltop, thinking about life and all the rest of it.
Photos like this one, a couple who is supposedly Jeff and his wife and soul mate, Jenny.
The picture actually came from here.
Back when 7 Secrets came out, and later, Synchronicity and the Other Side, I emailed Jeff and asked for his snail mail address so that I could mail him copies of the books. We’ve done that with people whose stories we have used and invariably, people have gladly provided a snail mail address. But Jeff never responded. I figured it was a privacy issue.
Jeff’s blog wasn’t one that I read frequently. There was way too much drama and intensity and at some point, alarms went off in the back of my head about the whole scenario of Jeff’s life. It read like some Shakespearean drama. Granted, people experience unspeakable tragedies in their lives and learn to cope with those tragedies, somehow. But Jeff seemed… too heroic, the guy who always swept in to clean up the mess, to save the day, a comic book hero. Yet, he grounded his story in his life as a high school science teacher who had issues with the administration.
When a story like Jeff’s turns out to be bogus, when his entire life and six years of blogging turns out to be colorful fiction, it casts a disparaging light on synchronicity, spirit communication, and other experiences we have that don’t fit into the model of consensus reality. It’s fodder for skeptics, discourages people who experience meaningful coincidence and spirit communication and makes it easier for the to dismiss it all as random silliness. And it prompts Rob and me to be far more cautious in the future.
The bigger question, though, is this: Why would anyone perpetuate a lie for six years? What motivates someone like this? Is Jeff Loughlin (his real name, a guy from Pennsylvania, not New Hampshire), mentally ill? Delusional? Does he just have too much time on his hands? Does he, in some part of himself, really believe the fiction he’s written?
Hey, Jeff. Hope you’re reading this. After Jill’s death, you were smart to direct your followers to send money to a cancer organization rather than to you. After all, that might have prompted the feds to look into your activities. You weren’t so smart, though, when you showed Katie’s photo:
She is actually actress Annie DiBernardo.
Six years of a hoax and you got so cocky you forgot the cardinal rules of life in the 21st century: there are witnesses to everything and, with Google, even Hansel and Gretel can be found because all the cookie crumbs are recorded somewhere.
P.S. We sent Jeff the draft of this post and asked him to comment. He didn’t respond. The email didn’t bounce back, though, which suggests that he received it.
Taryn and her group are going to be featured on 20/20 in October.
Here is Taryn’s latest post on Jeff: http://warriorelihoax.wordpress.com/2012/08/30/jeff-dantonio-revealed/
UPDATE ON JEFF THE HOAXER, where he denies he’s Jeff Loughlin from Pennsylvania