A blogger who wrote of deciding to give birth to a terminally ill baby, attracting a following of thousands of supporters online, admits now that the entire story was made up.
The woman behind the hoax isn't "April's Mom" — a single expectant mother who lay awake at night terrified her unborn child would die at any time, according to the Chicago Tribune.
She is actually Beccah Beushausen, a 26-year-old social worker from the Chicago suburb of Mokenka who says she didn't know how to free herself from the web of lies she wove.
"Soon I was getting 100,000 hits a week, and it just got out of hand," she told the Tribune. "I didn't know how to stop. ... One lie led to another."
The blog reached its peak at nearly a million hits when Beushausen wrote that baby April Rose was born alive at home — and then died mere hours later, the paper reported.
Anti-abortion supporters were captivated by her story, logging on each night to read about her plight and saying they were praying for her.
Some followers even sent gifts and photographs to the post office box she listed online. Parenting Web sites that oppose abortion promoted her site.
But the web of lies began to unravel when a photo of a lifelike doll posted as a supposed picture of baby April Rose raised suspicions, according to the Tribune.
"I have that exact doll in my house," dollmaker and blog reader Elizabeth Russell of Buffalo, N.Y., told the newspaper. "As soon as I saw that picture, I knew it was a scam."
When supporters of "April's Mom" found out her story was fiction, they were outraged and demanded that the blogger be unmasked and held accountable.
"I know what I did was wrong," Beushausen told the Tribune. "I've been getting hate mail. I'm sorry because people were so emotionally involved."
There's no evidence that Beushausen profited financially from the hoax or committed a crime.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.