A 34-year-old St. Petersburg man studying for his doctorate in communications at USF played a key role in exposing a fabricated story this week about a Notre Dame linebacker's girlfriend dying of leukemia, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, who is training at IMG in Bradenton, faces questions about whether he was the unwitting victim of an online hoax or if he deliberately concocted the story about a dying girlfriend, who in reality never existed.
In September, it was widely reported that Te'o lost his girlfriend and his grandmother on the same day. Te'o said he was playing for them in the inspirational upset win over Michigan State that weekend.
Timothy Burke is the St. Petersburg resident who helped report the story, as an editor for Deadspin, according to the Times.
According to the Times, Burke also has a blog, 30fps.mocksession.com.
In the Deadspin story, Burke wrote about the myth of Lennay Kekua.
"Did you enjoy the uplifting story, the tale of a man who responded to adversity by becoming one of the top players of the game? If so, stop reading.
Manti Te'o did lose his grandmother this past fall. Annette Santiago died on Sept. 11, 2012, at the age of 72, according to Social Security Administration records in Nexis. But there is no SSA record there of the death of Lennay Marie Kekua, that day or any other. Her passing, recounted so many times in the national media, produces no obituary or funeral announcement in Nexis, and no mention in the Stanford student newspaper.
Nor is there any report of a severe auto accident involving a Lennay Kekua. Background checks turn up nothing. The Stanford registrar's office has no record that a Lennay Kekua ever enrolled. There is no record of her birth in the news. Outside of a few Twitter and Instagram accounts, there's no online evidence that Lennay Kekua ever existed."