Daily News Central Park Jogger Story Was Not a Terrible April Fool's Joke

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People went a little nuts today when a story, headlined "Wolf Pack's Prey," went up on the Daily News website (and remained at least as late as 1:15 p.m.) with a timestamp that reads "MONDAY, APRIL 1, 2013, 11:17 AM."

At first it will seem, because the article is presented without any context, as though a woman was viciously beaten and raped and near death on Wednesday of last week in Central Park by "a wolf pack of more than a dozen young teenagers who attacked her at the end of an escalating crime spree."

If you're unfamiliar with (or don't remember) the details of the Central Park jogger case of April 19, 1989, you could be forgiven for thinking the paper doesn't even quite go far enough in registering the shock of the crime. As our mayor continually reminds us, crime is way, way down in New York City.

But if you are familiar with them you'll immediately see that the jogger, unnamed, is in fact Trisha Meili, unnamed in this contemporaneous account as such crime victims are. She's the Central Park jogger, whose attack set off one of the biggest and most controversial police investigations of the beginning of the Giuliani era in New York City.

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The controversy is especially fresh because of the November release of Ken and Sarah Burns' documentary about the case and an ongoing lawsuit against the city; more than 10 years after the crime, the District Attorney's office vacated its convictions on the crimes after another man's confession and DNA evidence backing it up exonerated the "Wolf Pack."

On Twitter, some were asking whether it's a very tasteless and poorly judged April Fool's joke; others are guessing there's some kind of tech mess-up.

We were waiting to hear from the News but reporter Nick Rizzo seems to have figured it out. An archive package about the case, in conjunction with a PBS documentary scheduled to air soon, seems to have gone live before it was finished, and was picked up by readers over RSS feeds, before it was supposed to. This page, also live as of 1:37 p.m., should give you an idea of what the context was supposed to be (though the dummy text is truly unfortunate):

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.