If you see a news story pop up in your feed claiming that police are investigating Chester Bennington‘s tragic death as a possible homicide, beware before you share.
The deceptively convincing yarn originating from YourNewsWire.com has been deemed #FakeNews by several hoax debunking sites after catching fire on the internet over the past 48 hours.
The original article, entitled “Police: Chester Bennington Was Murdered”, draws on the eerie similarities between Bennington and his close friend and fellow music legend Chris Cornell‘s suicides and quotes unnamed police sources to draw a murder conspiracy link between the two deaths.
“Detectives are looking into whether Chester Bennington was murdered, with the death scene later arranged to resemble a suicide,” the article claims. “They have put a team of investigators in place and are refusing to rule out a criminal homicide charge.”
As for motive, the article posits that Bennington — a known victim of child sexual assault — had been working with Cornell’s foundation to prevent the sexual exploitation of children, and that the pair were close to exposing numerous “notorious pedophiles” still operating at a high level within the entertainment industry.
“Investigators believe that the deaths of Cornell and Bennington – who died on Cornell’s birthday – may be linked,” the article claims, arguing that the pair were silenced before they could follow through on their noble mission:
“The parallels between the two deaths are astonishing. The close friends, who were working on exposing notorious entertainment industry pedophiles, died in the same way – with Bennington’s death taking place on what would have been Cornell’s 53rd birthday.”
Close friends of Cornell say that he was shown a ‘black book’ that included the name of one of his professional associates. After setting up his foundation and investigating further, Cornell was close to exposing a network of pedophiles working within the entertainment industry – a dangerous job that he considered his ‘duty’.
But his friends believe he was taken out before he finished the job.”
It then points to the skepticism expressed by Cornell’s family that he would have taken his own life, as well as a bunch of other shaky circumstantial evidence to support the conspiracy, before concluding:
“In May, Chester Bennington tweeted, ‘As of today, my life’s purpose is one of love and understanding. The world needs to change and that change comes from within. Hate, pride, vengeance and fear are the plague of the earth. Love, kindness, compassion, empathy and service to others are the cure’.
He added a challenge to his followers on Twitter, ‘Let’s all choose to be a part of the cure. If we look outside ourselves to find love and peace we will ultimately fail. It has to come from within. Lead by example’.
Chester Bennington was a mature, well-adjusted man who had exorcised his demons and had dedicated the rest of his life to fighting for others – including his six children and his godson, Christopher Cornell – and exposing the pedophile ring in [the] entertainment industry.”
And it seems, the story has got more than just a few fans online convinced:
Chester Bennington didn't commit suicide. He was murdered. He and Chris Cornell were trying to expose child trafficking in their industry.
— ⒶMerlin SaldívarⒶ (@BronyStarseed) July 21, 2017
However, it’s important to note that the YourNewsWire.com article has since been debunked as total BS.
Snopes.com and Politifact have both labelled the outlet — which confusingly posts legitimate stories alongside made-up ones — #FakeNews, with the former calling the Bennington article a hoax based on its lack of credible sources, hyperlinks that don’t actually link to the information referenced, plus their own independent research which has categorically refuted its central claims.
“We have spoken to all the agencies that have jurisdiction over Bennington’s home and can confirm that, contrary to what YourNewsWire reported, law enforcement has not said Bennington was murdered,” the myth-busting site confirms.
“YourNewsWire is not a reliable source of information — they regularly post inaccurate articles and unfounded conspiracy theories. There is no evidence that Bennington or Cornell were murdered in an effort to cover up a debunked pedophile sex ring.”
It’s understandable why fans would gravitate toward an elaborate murder conspiracy to help make sense of both of these heartbreaking tragedies rather than face the (frankly) terrifying truth. But in our current climate of #FakeNews, it’s always important to check the source. And this source seems dodgy AF.
If you or anyone you know needs help or information about mental health, please feel free to contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 at any time.
Watch: Corey Taylor Dedicates Stone Sour’s ‘Through Glass’ To Chester Bennington