By Deborah Quinn Hensel
HOUSTON (Reuters) - Law enforcement officials in Liberty County, Texas, were hunting on Wednesday for a tipster who claimed to have psychic knowledge of a mass grave containing up to 30 bodies in a rural area.
The tip led to an intensive investigation and national media attention, but no bodies, on Tuesday.
Capt. Rex Evans, a spokesman for the Liberty County Sheriff's Office, said the female caller, who apparently was familiar with the rural property about 50 miles outside Houston, may face a misdemeanor charge for filing a false report. The punishment could include a fine and jail time.
"That would certainly depend on her mental state," Evans said. "If she's evaluated and it's determined she's not able to be charged, we'd have to look at other avenues to get her some help."
The first call came in to the sheriff's office around 10 p.m. on Monday, but deputies dispatched to the location were unable to find anyone home at the time and could locate no evidence in the dark, according to a Sheriff's Office press release issued Wednesday.
A second call from the same source came in about 11 a.m. on Tuesday, claiming that deputies had missed the location where the bodies were buried and encouraging them to return to the scene.
They returned, bringing a cadaver detection dog and several law enforcement officials from the sheriff's office along with Texas Department of Public Safety officers, Texas Rangers, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
"Combined, with all of the agencies involved, there could have been a significant number of man hours expended," Evans said. "I would just hope that people understand that, due to the seriousness of the information provided, any parent would want their local law enforcement to go and investigate whether or not that information is true."
Deputies found blood on the back door frame and detected an odor of decomposition in the area. A search warrant enabled deputies to enter the residence to conduct a more thorough investigation, but no bodies were located anywhere on the property, according to the statement.
(Editing by Karen Brooks and Peter Bohan)