LOCAL NEWS

Case Of Mistaken Identity Online Leads To Death Threats For Utah Woman

Aug 21, 2020, 12:37 AM | Updated: 12:39 am

PROVO, Utah – What’s in a name? Sometimes, it’s something nobody ever asked for or bargained.

Natalie Palmer said she was taken completely by surprise recently when she started receiving angry comments and messages and even death threats on her Facebook page.

“Are you the woman that murdered the wolves?” one commenter quizzed.

“You’re just sick!” another accused. “Just know hell is very real and you’re going there!”

“You are going to die screaming!” threatened one.

Another said, “Looking for you.”

The strangers accused Palmer of being the woman in a viral picture crouching next to apparently slain wolves in the back of a pickup truck.

“She’s telling me I need to take this very seriously,” said Palmer, reading another message. “’Otherwise others may really take grave action toward your life.’”

Palmer — who is an author of young adult novels — said she respects the fight for animal rights and has never hunted. But she acknowledged it’s been a struggle to even try to convince the commenters that she is not the woman in the picture.

That woman has been rumored to be another Natalie Palmer — the daughter of dentist Walter Palmer, who drew international scrutiny in 2015 by hunting and killing Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe.

That nation’s government announced later that same year it would not pursue charges against the man.

When KSL attempted Thursday to contact Walter Palmer’s daughter to inquire about the viral post and the threats the Utah Palmer had received, the man who answered the phone said he had no comment and instead pointed to an article by fact-checking website, Snopes.

The article concluded there was “no evidence” that the woman posing with the dead wolves in the photograph was Walter Palmer’s daughter, and that it appeared that someone had linked her name with the photo of unknown origin “for the sole purpose of stirring up controversy.”

Back in Utah, this Natalie Palmer said the ordeal has left her unsettled.

“Not in a million years would I have ever thought I’d be accused worldwide,” she said, noting lingering concerns about her safety and the safety of her family. “You just don’t know how serious it is, how far people will go, I guess.”

Palmer said she had yet to report the comments and threats to the police.

A law enforcement official told KSL it is generally recommended in the case of online threats to report them to police.

That official said while it can prove difficult to track down the senders through potentially bogus usernames and accounts, occasionally those people are caught, and it’s also recommended to simply document threats when they happen.

Palmer urged people to not believe everything they see on social media, to do their research to get the facts and to take the higher road when interacting with others online.

“There are better ways to get our thoughts and opinions across,” Palmer said.

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Case Of Mistaken Identity Online Leads To Death Threats For Utah Woman