Nine people were shot, one of whom died, at a home on Capstan Drive in Colerain Township Saturday. Some profanity included. Provided
Police say the Colerain Township woman who was hosting a gender-reveal party where nine people were shot July 8 wasn’t pregnant at the time of the shooting.
The day after the shooting, relatives said Cheyanne Willis lost her fetus the night of the incident, a detail that was reported by The Enquirer and other local media.
“Sadly, the police department, media and public have been given information we have found to be false,” said Colerain Township Police Chief Mark Denney in a Monday news release.
Police say the false information is hampering the investigation into the shooting that killed Autum Garrett, 22, of Andrews, Indiana, and wounded eight others.
Denney said police do not have an explanation as to why Willis, 21, had a gender-reveal party if she was not pregnant. A gender-reveal party is a popular event for expecting families where the gender of the fetus is revealed.
Willis was shot in the leg, treated at University of Cincinnati Medical Center, and released. A family member who was also shot previously said Willis was no longer pregnant after the shooting.
“The purpose of the party was to disclose the gender of Cheyanne Willis’ unborn child,” the police report on the shooting, filed by a patrol officer, said.
The shooting happened late on a Saturday night after the party that began around 4 p.m. had ended. But more than a dozen people of the 30 who originally were there stayed behind.
“Hours and days have been wasted following leads known to be lies when they were provided to our officers,” Denney said. “From the very beginning of this investigation, we have met significant resistance that is uncommon from victims of crime wanting a resolution.
“As an example, we were led to believe an unborn child was murdered in this incident only to find out that was not the case. That information is not provided to embarrass anyone, only to provide a fair understanding of the challenges we have faced in the past nine days.”
Denney said his department would be consulting with the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office to “update their office and seek advice on how to proceed with some of our information.”
More questions than answers
“All we have at this point is speculation,” Denney said Monday about why Willis would hold a party celebrating her non-existent pregnancy.
Dr. Caleb Adler, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, said false pregnancies fall into two categories: volitional or pseudocyesis.
He said a person with pseudocyesis believes she is pregnant and may have physical signs that support that belief, such as weight gain, menstrual irregularity and other traditional indicators of pregnancy.
“It’s very uncommon,” he said. “I think the statistic is one in 22,000 pregnancies.”
Adler stressed that he was speaking generally and was not making a diagnosis or specifically addressing the Colerain Township situation.
The doctor said when false pregnancy is volitional, when the person knows she is not pregnant but says she is, it can be the result of a personality disorder, a bid for attention, or for personal gain, whether that gain is financial or to affect the course of a relationship.
“It wouldn’t necessarily have to be the result of mental illness,” he said. “People do things for a variety of reasons.”
Monday’s development is the most significant to come out of the case since two gunmen walked into the front door of the Capstan Drive home the night of July 8, did not say a word, and fired at least 14 rounds striking nine people including three children while they watched a Spider-Man film. A dog was also struck by a gunfire, police said.
Police have not announced any known motive, made any arrests or released any more identifying information on the suspects outside of the fact they were wearing hoodies.
Police did find a gun outside the home, but it was the property of the homeowner and was not involved in the shooting, Denney has said.
Willis is the same woman who was beaten and robbed on Christmas Eve 2015 near the Forest Fair Village mall in Forest Park. Willis was hit and had her hair cut off. The attacker also wrote on her face. The incident, which stemmed from a car robbery, was recorded with a cell phone and the video was posted to social media.
A woman and a man were arrested in connection with that case, but a Hamilton County grand jury ignored the charges and the two were never prosecuted.
It remains unclear if that earlier assault is connected to the July 8 attack.
Visitation and funeral Tuesday for Garrett, mother of 2
Autum Garrett’s husband, Bryan, son, Bryan Jr. and daughter Layia were also struck by gunfire at the party.
Bryan Sr. was struck in the eye during the shooting. It’s unclear what injuries the children suffered.
The three were treated at Cincinnati hospitals and are preparing for Autum’s visitation and funeral service Tuesday at Myers Funeral Home in Huntington, Indiana.
The family established a GoFundMe page to help with the medical bills. It has raised nearly $3,596 of the $5,000 goal as of Monday evening.
“We are devastated. We are beyond devastated. We just can’t believe this happened,” David Moyer, Garrett’s supervisor at M & S Industrial Metal Fabricators, Inc. in Huntington previously told The Enquirer. “All she ever talked about was her family. Her husband and her two little ones.”
There is a $10,000 reward in the case. Anyone with information is asked to call Colerain police at 513-321-COPS or text them at 513-470-7165.
Chris Graves contributed.