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Originally published Saturday, December 27, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Story of missing baby was made up

Meagan McCormic gave quite a performance, her tearful pleas and photos of a missing 6-month-old riveting television viewers and sending police officers scrambling Christmas Day.

Sun Sentinel

MIAMI — Meagan McCormic gave quite a performance, her tearful pleas and photos of a missing 6-month-old riveting television viewers and sending police officers scrambling Christmas Day.

She even bought clothes for little Riley Buchness and tucked them neatly into a bedroom drawer, police said.

But McCormic made up the whole story — even the baby — in an attempt to hang on to a boyfriend living 1,400 miles away, police said Friday.

"She really thought this out and took great steps to try to fool everybody," police Cmdr. Delrish Moss said.

McCormic, 22, didn't fool some Miami detectives, who doubted her story from the beginning. They pressed her on a series of inconsistencies and she finally told the truth early Friday, Moss said.

McCormic has been charged with a misdemeanor for filing a false police report, and police want her to pay for the overtime and expenses spent on a search that began Wednesday.

Riley's plight was the top story on local newscasts and tugged at hearts on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. At the time, a sobbing McCormic blamed a French nanny named Camile for the boy's disappearance.

"I don't even know if he's dead or alive, if he was in a car accident," McCormic said, claiming she left her baby with Camile, whom she had used to watch the boy for many months.

John Buchness stood beside his girlfriend, also crying.

Alas, even the nanny was made up.

McCormic had a miscarriage in March, but told Buchness she had had his child, police said.

Buchness arrived from Boston this week to see his baby, and McCormic came up with the kidnapping story, according to the arrest affidavit.

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All of the pictures of baby Riley — including one that circulated nationwide on an Amber Alert — were plucked from the Internet, detectives said.

Moss said police have no idea of the real identity of the baby in the photo, and Buchness was not aware of the hoax.

The case took an emotional toll on detectives, other officers who joined the search and especially on Buchness, who believed his only son was in danger, Moss said.

"This poor guy was sucked in emotionally," Moss said.

Buchness wanted to break up last year, and McCormic wanted to keep the relationship going, police said.

She hid the miscarriage from Buchness because "she felt that the only way to keep him around was to keep the baby alive and away from the father," detectives wrote in an arrest report.

When she finally confessed, McCormic showed some emotion, but police aren't sure she was sincere, Moss said.

"Either she was upset because she was so emotionally invested in her story, or because the weight of what she had done finally hit her," Moss said. "Or maybe she's just one hell of an actress."

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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