The student newspaper at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale had a big deal going.  For two years, they ran with the story of little Kodee Kennings whose father was serving in Iraq, publishing her letters to her overseas daddy.

Unfortunately, none of it was true.  An adult woman was pretending to be Kodee, even playing that role in phone conversation with Michael Brenner, the former Daily Egyptian editor who first wrote about Kodee.  Eventually, Kodee had to meet the DE staff, so a little girl was brought in to play the role — same for a man who claimed to be her father, Dan Kennings, home on leave.

According to the Chicago Tribune, “There is no soldier named Dan Kenning.  The charming girl people came to know as Kodee Kennings is someone else entirely, a child from an out-of-state family led to believe that she was playing a part in a documentary about a soldier.”

And the woman?  She’s Jaimie Reynolds, who alleges that the whole hoax was Brenner’s idea, who she’d fallen in love with, and that he did it to further his career.  Brenner denies the accusation and says her claims are outrageous.

Who is telling the truth, and why didn’t anyone else at the Daily Egyptian do some reporting and digging at some point in the two years they were publishing this hoax?  This one’s going to take awhile to sort out, but it’s one helluva story.

Somewhere, an agent is reading this and thinking “movie of the week!”

Note that the Tribune requires registration, but it’s free and worth it — or you can use BugMeNot.