Newspaper no longer stands by story of boy dying in Santa’s arms

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Knoxville News-Sentinel says it no longer stands by the story of a man who told the newspaper that a terminally ill boy died in his arms while he was portraying Santa Claus.

The story, published in the News-Sentinel on Sunday and picked up by outlets all over the world, was about Eric Schmitt-Matzen, who said he had promised to protect the identities of the child’s family and the nurse who summoned him to the boy’s hospital bedside.

In follow-up interviews, Schmitt-Matzen continued to stand by his account but declined to reveal the identities of those involved, according to the News-Sentinel.

In a story posted on the newspaper’s website Wednesday, editor Jack McElroy and columnist Sam Venable, who wrote the original story, said Schmitt-Matzen’s story “remains unverified.”

They wrote that they could not determine whether his account was accurate. They say they cannot stand by the veracity of Schmitt-Matzen’s account because it does not meet the newspaper’s standards of verification.