From the Palm Beach Post-
This was supposed to be a heartwarming story.Alot of people, including some prominent ones, got fooled by Mr. Willis. Funny, the Post doesn't admit their part in Mr. Willis' hoax. Did anyone in West Palm Beach ever think of doing a little fact checking before publication. Based on the paper's past track record, probably not.
With the help of a deputy and the Marine Corps League, a homeless man named James Willis got a bus ticket to spend his dying days with his long-lost brother in Greensboro, N.C.
Then the story changed. Willis said his brother died in the days before he arrived by Greyhound in Greensboro.
And now, all that's left is a story.
The people who helped Willis now concede they never checked out the 55-year-old alcoholic's claims before they gave him a $121 bus ticket.
Palm Beach County Sheriff's Cpl. Karl Martin and past commandant of the Marine league, Robert McKenna, did not confirm whether Willis served in Vietnam with the Marines, whether he actually has terminal cancer in his bones, or whether he has a brother in Greensboro.
"Absolutely, I feel betrayed," said Martin. "If this situation ever came up again, yeah, I'd do a lot of research. We believed his story. We never did a confirmation. ... His story has been consistent over a year."
Now Willis is in a Greensboro homeless shelter, saying he endured a harrowing trip and wants to come back to Florida.
The gesture to help a dying man generated an outpouring of sympathy. U.S. Rep. Ron Klein, D-Boca Raton, called Martin a "hero" on the House floor Friday morning.
U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, wrote Martin a letter commending him for the good deed.
But Willis is not much better off now than he was living in the woods.
Reached at the Greensboro Urban Ministry on Friday, he said it's cold and raining in North Carolina and he doesn't know anyone. He insists his brother died and his brother's wife moved away after he boarded the bus Wednesday. He said he lost all the addresses, phone numbers as well as proof of his illness and military service in transit.
Willis says he doesn't understand why they can't confirm his story.
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