Gender reveal party shooting: Did Cheyanne Willis lie to police, and why?

 wcpo.com  7/18/2017 2:33:00 AM 

COLERAIN TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- Did Cheyanne Willis lie to police, like police say she lied to reporters? And why did she claim she was pregnant in the first place -- a claim police now say was untrue?

The answers could determine whether she'll be criminally charged.

Willis was one of nine people shot July 8 at a gender reveal party on Capstan Drive. Guests had gathered earlier that day in her honor: A gender reveal party is a sort of baby shower, in which an expectant parent or parent unveils the sex of their unborn child.

RELATED: Everything we know about Colerain mass shooting

Partygoers were watching a movie when two gunmen came in through the front door and fired 14 rounds, police said. One victim died.

The next morning, Willis told reporters she'd been shot in the leg and lost the baby. Family friends said the same.

It was not her first encounter with violence. Willis previously told WCPO she was attacked on Christmas Eve 2014, claiming another woman punched her and wrote on her face. A grand jury declined to indict the suspect.

There can be many reasons a woman might lie about pregnancy. Psychologist James Daum said those might include narcissism or low self-esteem. Lying about pregnancy or losing a child, he said, is a powerful way for a woman to gain control and sympathy.

Alexandria Police Chief Mike Ward had this perspective: "If you lie to us on the forefront, then it destroys any credibility that you might have as a witness in a court of law."

Anyone who gives false information to Ohio police could face criminal charges for obstructing justice. It's illegal to file a false police report in Kentucky, but it's legal to lie to police.

There's also a rare condition called pseudocyesis, in which a woman develops the symptoms of pregnancy and believes she is -- even though she's not conceived a child.

In Willis' case, police spokesman Jim Love said investigators knew there was a gender reveal party. Willis told media she'd been pregnant, he said.

The Colerain Township Police Department will let a prosecutor decide if Willis should be charged over the pregnancy claim, Love said. She didn't respond to WCPO's request for comment Monday.

Police Chief Mark Denney said the pregnancy is just one example of false leads detectives have been given over the past nine days. They've also gotten "significant resistance" from the victims, he said.

He lamented the "hours and days" they've wasted while two gunmen remain on the loose. Investigators are so frustrated they're not talking about the case. 

In any case, leading police down a rabbit hole puts a strain on public resources.

"You put in a lot more (overtime) and you spend a lot more money," Ward said.

An anonymous donor has offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to arrests. Anyone with information can call the Colerain Police Department Tip Line at 513-470-7165 or Crimestoppers at 513-352-3040.

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