The message was simple, two words: "I'm okay."
The comment was posted on the "Ashley Come Home" Facebook page, under a new Facebook profile created Thursday by an alleged individual named Ashley Murray, with a photo of the Peconic teen. The post read: "Ashley Murray: I'm okay!"
But the question loomed for many concerned friends and loved ones: Was the comment actually written by missing teen Ashley Murray, or was the post an internet hoax?
On Friday, Southold Town Police Chief Martin Flatley said police were cognizant of the post. "As far as the Facebook posting goes, we were also made aware of the posting and investigated same.The posting has not altered our current investigation into Ashley’s disappearance."
Ashley's brother, Jaime Cradehl, said, "I can't imagine Ashley really making that post. I mean, it's possible, but not likely. I'd love for it to be her."
The post came Thursday evening, the same night Ashley's mother Charlotte Murray sent out a heartfelt letter to her daughter on Patch and on the "Ashley Come Home" Facebook page, asking her daughter to let her know that she was safe.
Cradehl said he has met with authorities regarding the "I'm okay" post, and said as of Friday morning, the identify of poster was being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigations, which joined the search for Ashley this week.
"I'd still like to find out what that post was about," he said. "And if it was a hoax, by whom."
Flatley said setting up the account would not necessarily constitute criminal impersonation or identity theft. "The rules for online use are still a lot different than other correspondence mainly because it’s a little harder to identify users and sites. That’s not to be misconstrued that there are no online violations of law, because there are, but this scenario wouldn’t fit into a crime," he said.
As of Friday, 12 days after Ashley disappeared without her medication or warm clothes, and leaving a suicide note, there has been no word on the missing teen.
Anyone with information about Ashley Murray's whereabouts is asked to call Southold Town police at 631-765-2600.