Emily Dirr and Warrior Eli

This is a repost of a summary I wrote about the Warrior Eli hoax.  You can read all the entries about Emily Dirr by clicking here.

Since exposing the Dirr hoax, we’ve uncovered several other people faking cancer or other illnesses on Facebook or on their personal blogs.  Their stories are linked on the sidebar under their names.

If you have a page you suspect might be fake, you can email us at warriorelihoax@gmail.com.  Also, we have a public Facebook group here.

On Mother’s Day, a post from a recent widower went viral on Facebook.


Dana Dirr, wife of JS and the mother of cancer patient “Warrior Eli” Dirr, had been in a car accident the day before.  She held on long enough to give birth to her eleventh child but then passed away.  A family already struggling with a son suffering from his fourth relapse of cancer now had to pull themselves together after losing their wife and mother.  Life truly didn’t seem fair for one family to suffer so much.

Here’s a cache of the family’s Facebook page created to share updates about Eli’s cancer battle.  The page had 1100 fans before Dana’s death was announced.  In the early morning hours of May 14, that number had swelled to over 6600.

Dana’s survivors didn’t ask for money, flowers or gifts to help ease their pain.  Instead, a page was set up with a children’s cancer charity and readers of the Warrior Eli Facebook page were asked to donate to the foundation in memory of Dana Dirr.


By 3 AM on May 14, the family’s goal of raising $1000 in honor of Dana Dirr had already been exceeded.

At 3:30 AM, the Warrior Eli Facebook page was deleted and the profiles of Eli’s parents, JS and Dana Dirr, became private.  Why?  This blog was created.  Hundreds of people all over the world, those who had been online friends with “Dana and JS” and those who had been moved by the story of Dana’s death, came together and researched the story, gathered evidence and, in less than 24 hours, proved that “Warrior Eli” was a hoax and that the woman behind the curtain was Emily Dirr, a medical student from Ohio.

The first clue that something was off about the story of Dana’s death was when no news agencies carried stories about a young mother of eleven, an accomplished trauma surgeon in Canada, had died on Mother’s Day after delivering a healthy baby girl.  That seems like the kind of story that the media would jump on immediately, but 24 hours after Dana’s death, nothing.

A bunch of ladies in a community devoted to talking about another emotionally manipulative blogger started to become more and more suspicious of the story of Dana’s death.  When several started to take a closer look at pictures posted online of the Dirr children, it became clear there were no group shots of all  of them together.  We started using tineye.com and Google image search to see if we could find the children’s pictures anywhere else on the web,

Bingo.  JS and Dana’s twins, Lily and Jude


They turned out to actually be Adam and Kate, the children of Tertia Loebenberg Albertyn, a popular blogger in South Africa.

Many other examples of the Dirrs stealing pictures from around the web and claiming they were snapshots from their own lives were found.

It was puzzling because, from Facebook, JS and Dirr looked so real.  Each had hundreds of friends and they were tagged in dozens of their friends’ posts and pictures.  Both Dirrs had many albums filled with pictures, even participating in those photo a day challenges.  Friends posted on their walls constantly.  These didn’t look like sock puppet profiles.

A closer look at the friends’ profiles, however, showed that all the friends were basically obsessed with talking about Eli’s cancer battle.  Almost all the friends “liked” two Facebook pages, Squeeze the Day and Fla-Vor-Ice.  Profile picture after profile picture of the Dirr’s friends were found elsewhere on the net.  We figured out originally that whoever was behind the hoax had at least 25 Facebook profiles devoted to making his or her story look legitimate.

Eventually we’d identify 71 fake Facebook profiles.

By now, we’d realized that Dana Dirr was fake, her husband and children didn’t exist and her son Eli really wasn’t suffering from cancer.  The lengths to which the person behind the hoax went to in order to make the story look real were staggering.


The family had a CaringBridge page that went back five years and documented every aspect of Eli’s cancer treatment.  JS also had a Xanga journal, a MySpace blog and a huge presence on an online photo sharing site, Mobog.  All of these were updated often, included tons of (stolen) pictures and had very detailed stories about life in Canada.  JS also maintained an extensive Yahoo! Answers account, answering questions from parents of cancer patients, looking for emotional support for his family and even asking how much to pay a babysitter.


By now, I’d set up this blog and created an email address for people to send any information they could find.  Early on, a reader sent me a link to a genealogy site with information about a woman named Emily Dirr.  Her name had been on the list of donors to a fundraiser for a cancer charity that was set up to honor Eli.


I figured it was just a coincidence because I didn’t think whoever was behind this story would use her own last name.  Then people started emailing me about bracelets that the Dirr family had sent out to raise awareness of Eli’s fight.  The return address on the packages?  Emily Dirr in Rootstown, Ohio.


JS and Dana claimed that Emily was JS’ sister who lived in the United States.  She would be handling sending out the bracelets because postage was cheaper from Ohio than it was from Saskatchewan.  Emily sent out hundreds and hundreds of these awareness bracelets, sometimes including artwork by Eli and pictures of him that she had printed out.


A public records search revealed that the house from the return address was owned by the parents of Emily Dirr.  It looked like we’d found the hoaxer.

revealed Emily’s name on this blog.  She emailed me, at first spinning yet another ridiculous lie, but then called me and confessed.  I felt a great deal of sympathy for her and urged her to get help and move on with her life.  She sent me an apology to post on this site.  Later, I found out most of the sob story she had told me over the  phone was also a lie.  I too had been duped by Emily Dirr.

The scariest part?  Emily is a med student studying to be a doctor.  That might explain how she was able to pull this off.  It’s a labeled bag of chemotherapy medication that Emily posted on her Warrior Eli CaringBridge site.


It turns out Emily had also carried on cyber affairs with several women, all the while pretending to be a handsome man in his 20s from Canada.  She had dozens of friends whom she texted and instant messaged every day, including a young girl who was 13 when she met the Dirr family.  She’s 17 now and absolutely devastated that her friend was just an illusion.  Dozens of people who considered JS and Dana close friends and allies in the fight against childhood cancer have been left shattered.

Many of the parents who took the time to emotionally support and comfort the Dirr family had sick or dying children of their own.  They now look back and realize that they wasted time on fictional characters, precious time they could have spent with their own children.  Some parents have removed their support pages from the web, terrified that someone will steal their children’s pictures and pull this same thing all over again.

If Emily Dirr does have Munchausen by Internet, she needs some very serious mental help.  People who have this disorder do not stop.  When one of their stories is revealed to be fake, they pull up camp, move on to a different community of victims and start all over again.

Emily still has 46 fake Facebook profiles that she hasn’t gotten rid of yet.

Thank you to the huge number of people, all over the world, who researched this hoax, sent in exchanges they’d had with the Dirr family, took pictures of their bracelets, floated crazy theories that ended up being true and taught me that nothing is ever anonymous on the Internet

Why Did Dana Dirr Have to Die?

Last year, Esther, the mother of the boy whose pictures Emily Dirr stole to use as “Eli Dirr,” privatized her Flickr account.  Unknowingly, this put the first nail in the coffin of Dana Dirr and probably Eli too.

On January 25th, Esther received a notification from Flickr that someone had added her as a contact.  She never noticed the connection request.  The profile used a yellow pediatric cancer awareness ribbon as an avatar and talked about a son’s battle with recurring cancer.


After the Warrior Eli hoax was revealed, Esther finally noticed the request but didn’t note the date.  She looked at the pictures associated with the account, recognized a couple of the “Dirr kids” and figured it was a parent who had also had their children’s picture’s used by Emily to illustrate the Warrior Eli saga.  Tonight, when our Facebook group was trying to identify the kids involved, Esther shared the Flickr profile.  I read it and immediately knew it was another sock puppet created by Emily Dirr.

Julia was a character in the tale of JS Dirr.  She was the biological mother of Eli, Dougie and their half brother Kyle.  JS had gained custody of the boys (as was his custom) but Julia King was still a member of the Ex Girlfriends of JS Dirr Facebook group.

When Esther didn’t add “Julia_KDE” to her Flickr contacts, Emily no longer had any access to new pictures of Eli or of Dana.  She stole a few pictures from Esther’s Facebook profile, but not enough to maintain her lies.  She had no choice but to kill off Dana and have Eli relapse, a grim future ahead of him.

Many people have pondered that Emily killed off Dana because on some level she wanted to be caught.  The hoax had taken over her life and ending the life of a main character on Mother’s Day showed desperation.  Now it’s obvious the only reason Dana (and maybe Eli) had to die was because there would be no more pictures of either of them.

As a side note, check out some of the pictures from other Flickr users that “Julia” had marked as her favorites.


Look familiar?


Other favorites might be a preview of coming attractions for the Dirr family, if Emily hadn’t been exposed.

There’s a huge display of cancer medications, an MRI of a brain tumor (which lucky loved one was fated to have that?), and some close up pictures of the back of a couple of little boys’ heads, perfect to serve as generic pictures of some of JS’ tribe.

She also favorited a picture of a dead child’s toy, encased in glass and preserved with flowers that had been displayed on a little boy’s coffin.  It was a memorial the family had made to remember their son.  Eli’s future, perhaps?

If Esther hadn’t decided to make her pictures private, Emily might never have killed off any characters and this whole mess might never have been exposed.

The Friends and Family of JS Dirr

People have asked why Emily Dirr went to such great lengths to create over 70 fake Facebook profiles in order to create the world of JS, Dana, Eli and the rest of the Dirr family.  Check out this profile of JS’ best friend, Mitchy Aaron.






All of the comments on Mitchy’s page are from sockpuppet accounts created by Emily Dirr.  Mitchy also had over 100 pictures on his Facebook profile, most related somehow to JS and Dana or his job as a Canadian Mountie.


Mitchy was just a supporting player in the Dirr universe, but by creating a full profile for JS’ best friend, Emily made sure that anyone who had doubts about the Dirr family or Eli’s story could click and see that of course the Dirrs are real.  Who would spend so much time making a fake profile just for a friend of the family?

This was all done to add depth to her story and make it appear more authentic.  At the end of the Gawker article, Adrian Chen raises questions as to whether Emily Dirr acted alone in creating all of this.

Anna, who had the online romance with J.S., believes there was more to the Dirrs than just Emily. In early 2011, Anna and J.S. had a fight, after which J.S. gave Anna the silent treatment. So she decided to use a service called SpyPig to see if he was reading the emails she sent him. SpyPig lets you hide a code in an email that notifies you exactly when and where your message was opened, and if it was forwarded anywhere. SpyPig told Anna some of the emails she sent to J.S. were being opened in Vancouver, while some were opened in Ohio. One of her emails was opened three times in Ohio, then forwarded to New York.

Why were emails opened in Vancouver, if Emily had run the entire hoax from her father’s home in Ohio? Who was in New York? I sent an email to J.S.’s email account. So far, according to the Spypig code I embeded in it, it hasn’t been opened yet.

It could just be that easy for the Dirr family to disappear.

JS Dirr had a close friend who only knew him through online interactions.  She lives in New York.  My theory is that Emily used a proxy to make it appear like she lived in Canada, opened the email at her house in Ohio and forwarded it to this friend in New York.  Why?  She wanted JS and Dana to be rich and multifaceted characters, and what better way to show this than to share emails written by an online girlfriend to another friend?

The awareness bracelets were also a ploy to authenticate the story.  Anyone questioning would have their doubts silenced when they saw that the family was sending out packages for free to draw awareness to Eli’s story.


The package pictured above was sent in November of 2010.

EDITED 7/3/12: Emily also made donations to cancer fundraisers in the Dirrs’ name.  She had a YouTube channel of stolen videos that she claimed were the Dirr children here.  You can also see screen shots of part of JS’ MySpace here.

Here are screen shots of the many fake Facebook profiles associated with JS and Dana Dirr.  The ones that are still active as of today are marked.

According to Facebook  you can either deactivate an account or delete it entirely.  Interesting that JS Dirr’s account is deactivated and not deleted.

JS Dirr

Dana Dirr

Dane Deveroux (Dana’s father)

William Houston (friend)

Kim Sutton (girlfriend of William Houston)

Wayne Houston (father of William Houston)

Marc LeBeau (friend)

Brittany Morton (friend and ex-girlfriend)

Adam Spain (friend)

Alex Spain (wife of Adam)

Benita Miller (friend and ex-girlfriend)

Mitchy Aaron (best friend of JS)

Shane Pellizer (friend)

Ben Palmer (friend)

Todd White (friend)

Rob Birclay (friend)

Shawna Birclay (Rob’s wife)

Jenn Lisko

Jennifer Lawrence

Doug Clark (friend)

Grace Benedatto (friend)

Joshua Dirr (brother of JS)

Ashleigh Miller (ex girlfriend)

Sid Baker (friend)

Wade Ralleigh (friend)

Dierks Cody (friend)

Lynn Aaron (Mitchy’s wife)

Tara Dirr (Joshua’s wife, mom of triplets)

Connor Kloeten

Jimmy Dirr

Here are some profiles that were associated with the Dirrs that are deleted with no available screen shots.

Nicholas Brandon (friend)

Mike Walling (friend)

Mike Lucas (friend and fellow Mountie)

Kayla Pittman (friend)

Liz Aaron (friend, ex-wife to Mitchy)

The following are profiles created to fill up the Facebook group “The Ex-Girlfriends of JS Dirr”  That Facebook group is still active and these profiles still exist. (I’m including screen shots in case they are deleted).

Alyssa Shaw

Taylore Spear

Deanna Clinton

Ashleigh Freeman

Sarah Ryder

Amanda Blake

Amy Wheeler

Liz Anderson

Jessa McGrey

Jenn Ashbury

Mandy Porter

Heather Walsh

Nicole Brown

Jessi Taylor

Laura Glass-Pickens

Allie Carter

Danielle Sweet

Hannah Hennessee

Kelly Shaw

Natalie Cooper

Megan Yrson

Bonny Abbott

Christine Porter

Andrew Tampa

Elise Conninx

Sam Lenae

Ashley Summerlan

Meghan Johnson

Taryn Morrisson

Renee Kelczewskie

Shelby Victoria

Mady Amera

Amy Duncan

Karri Hutton

Kitty Marin

Brandy Wright

The following were women in the group whose profiles have since been deleted.

Jenny Roberts

Julia King

There were seven other women in this group whose profiles were deleted and whose names I didn’t screen shot, unfortunately.

This makes a total of 81 fake Facebook profiles involved in the Warrior Eli hoax.  And I’m pretty sure there were more.

And, just because it’s interesting, here’s JS Dirr’s take on people who would try to trick the childhood cancer support community.