CLAIM: A mug shot circulating on social media shows a serial killer who is currently on the loose and is abducting women after hitting their cars with his truck.
THE FACTS: This is a viral hoax that has spread in Indiana, Texas, Pennsylvania, Alabama and elsewhere in the U.S. The mug shot is of Jose Gilberto Rodriguez, a man accused of killing three people over four days in the Houston area in 2018 — but he has been in a detention facility awaiting trial since then and remains behind bars, officials in Harris County, Texas, confirmed this week.
“There’s a serial killer or abductor who is currently hunting in Putnam, my friend was almost taken by him,” reads a post that appeared in a Putnam, Indiana-area Facebook group, along with Rodriguez’s mug shot. “He drives a truck with led lights and hits Cars of women alone and once they pull over he takes them. Multiple disappearances. If you are in the area and you are hit by a truck with led lights keep driving and call the cops. Please Stay safe.”
Tom Sutherlin, chief deputy at the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department, said that he is not aware of any active investigations of a serial killer in the area or of someone who is a danger to the community. A reverse image search of the mug shot shows it matches one that appeared in news articles about Rodriguez’s arrest in July 2018.
John Donnelly, a spokesperson for the Harris County District Attorney’s office, confirmed to the AP that Rodriguez is the man in the booking photo circulating online. Senior Deputy Thomas Gilliland, a public information officer at the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, said Rodriguez is being held in an area detention facility while awaiting trial.
The Amarillo Police Department in Texas said in a Facebook post that the posts with Rodriguez’s mug shot spreading online are part of a scam that is meant to “cause panic and alarm.”
As the AP reported, Rodriguez is accused of killing three people in Houston over a period of four days in July 2018 — a 62-year-old woman found dead at her home, as well as 28-year-old and a 57-year-old who worked at two different mattress stores. He was arrested the same month, after he violated his parole prior to the fatal shootings.
His trial is scheduled to begin on Jan. 22, 2024, Donnelly said.