LEWISTON – News that a 3-year-old girl had been abducted on Tuesday spread fast through area people text messaging the ugly news through their phones.

The trouble was, the report was unfounded.

Police Tuesday night released a bulletin to calm fears throughout the city – and beyond – and to advise that no local Amber Alert was in effect.

It was unclear how the rumor began. By nightfall, the story of a 3-year-old girl abducted by a man driving a silver truck moved quickly as one person sent it by phone message to the next.

By 9 p.m., someone as far away as Vassalboro called the newspaper to ask about the status of the missing girl.  In that instance, the person received a text message from another who had received it from a worker in Waterville.

In Lewiston, a woman said she received not one but two text messages advising of the missing girl. That was trumped by a woman in Mechanic Falls who received a half-dozen messages.

“I’m thinking, ‘Oh, my God. Is it true?” said Dawn Edwards, who said two more messages came in while she was talking to a reporter. “It scared me to death. I’m emotional about that kind of stuff.”

Police did not fault anyone for trying to help but quickly moved to quell the rumor.

“This alert is being forwarded by numerous people thinking that they are assisting the police,” according to a news release that went out at about 9 p.m. “The Lewiston police want to make the public aware that there is no missing child. The origin of this message is currently being investigated. The Lewiston Police Department requests that people not forward this message.”

Told that there was no truth to the rumor, Edwards said she was going to do her part to halt the spread of it.

“This eases my mind,” she said. “I’m going to reply back to everybody and tell them to stop.”

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