- Dan Hallman/invision/ap
- Neko Case
A fire that broke out September 18 in the Northeast Kingdom town of Barnet destroyed a barn and heavily damaged a nearby house, according to Vermont State Police.
Not much about the blaze itself was especially noteworthy. But it was who may have lived in the house, Grammy-nominated songwriter Neko Case, that caught the attention of the Caledonian Record. The Associated Press quickly picked up the story, citing the Record's account of the blaze.
The news apparently came as a shock to Case, who moved to Vermont in 2009.
"I keep getting reports that my house burned down?" she tweeted the morning of September 19. "Not my house. Not that that didn't scare the crap out of me. @AP."
I keep getting reports that my house burned down? Not my house. Not that that didn't scare the crap out of me. @AP— Neko Case (@NekoCase) September 19, 2017
Case, who was overseas at the time, firmly maintained on Twitter throughout the day that the house and barn were not hers.
Despite her best efforts, the story had spread like, well, wildfire. National media, including the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune, picked up the AP account.
The next day, the Record stood by its story and reported that an angry Case, who is famously guarded about her personal life and has had well-documented incidents with stalkers, had called their offices and left a profane voicemail disputing the account.
More evidence emerged that the Record likely had it right.
"That's where she stays when she's here," assistant Barnet fire chief Joseph Barrett told Seven Days.
So was it her place or not? She did register to vote in Vermont using the Barnet address where the blaze broke out, Secretary of State records show.
According to the town's grand list, the property is owned by an Illinois-based LLC. Its registered agent, St. Johnsbury lawyer Jared Cloutier, declined to comment. Case's representatives did not respond to Seven Days' requests for confirmation. Other outlets were similarly stonewalled, including internet myth-buster Snopes, which investigated the story. The website's verdict? "Unproven."