KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Knoxville News-Sentinel says it no longer stands by the story of a man who told the newspaper that a terminally ill boy died in his arms while he was portraying Santa Claus.
The story, published in the News-Sentinel on Sunday and picked up by outlets all over the world, was about Eric Schmitt-Matzen, who said he had promised to protect the identities of the child’s family and the nurse who summoned him to the boy’s hospital bedside. In follow-up interviews, Schmitt-Matzen continued to stand by his account but declined to reveal the identities of those involved, according to the News-Sentinel.
In a story posted on the newspaper’s website Wednesday, editor Jack McElroy and columnist Sam Venable, who wrote the original story, said Schmitt-Matzen’s story “remains unverified.” They wrote that they could not determine whether his account was accurate. They say they cannot stand by the veracity of Schmitt-Matzen’s account because it does not meet the newspaper’s standards of verification.