The touching story of how a professional Santa comforted a dying child in his last moments went viral - then screeched a halt when the newspaper that published it revealed its reporting could not prove it was true.
Now a television station has come forward to say it was able to verify the story - but is electing not to publish any new details, out of privacy concerns.
“Say, what’s this I hear you’re gonna miss Christmas? There’s no way you can miss Christmas! Why, you’re my Number One elf!” he told the Knoxville News-Sentinel.
But in an editor’s note, the newspaper said it tried verifying details of the story but could not.
“The News Sentinel cannot establish that Schmitt-Matzen’s account is inaccurate, but more importantly, ongoing reporting cannot establish that it is accurate,” the note reads. “Therefore, because the story does not meet the newspaper’s standards of verification, we are no longer standing by the veracity of Schmitt-Matzen’s account.”
Now here's WBIR 10News saying it "has independently verified several critical details of this story, but has agreed not to publish those for the sake of privacy."
Instead, the station quoted Schmitt-Matzen's wife and a friend citing details they say he told them about the visit.
"Eric and Sharon Schmitt-Matzen admit if the nurse would come forward and verify this story, that would address a lot of questions," WBIR reported. "They also said the family – if they choose to speak – could confirm the facts as well."