Mike Feigen - The single secular homeschooling dad of three boys with cystic fibrosis who never was
The online secular homeschooling community was hit hard, with messages of condolences, sadness, and mourning all over Facebook and the Secular Homeschooling Yahoo group.
But, a day later, when no information was forthcoming on how to pay respects to the family, and no article showed up in any newspapers, and none of the family was giving more information, there started to be suspicions about whether he even existed at all.
Mike Feigen claimed to homeschool three boys, two of which were his twin sons with cystic fibrosis, as well as a nephew who also had CF. He had said his wife died in 2004 2003 of CF as well, and he at that point stopped working in order to be a full time dad.
He posted to Facebook, the Secular Homeschooling off-topic Yahoo group, and to a Cycstic Fibrosis support forum many times a day, updating families about his sons’ health. He also posted about anti-religion and the Yankees.
He had a lot of friends (and as I’ve learned, also a lot of people who most certainly did not consider him a friend). These friends supported him and cheered him on through all of his struggles with his children.
So when he died, it hit the secular homeschooling community hard, and many people were very upset by it.
But after a little while, people started asking questions about him.
And when people started asking questions, suddenly, his Facebook page, his CF webpage, and the two pages for his sons disappeared off the internet.
Without those points of contact, Mike Feigen with two sons with CF did not exist anywhere else. He instantly blinked out of existence.
After doing extensive research, I have come to the conclusion that a real living Mike Feigen never existed, and that he and his entire family was fabricated.
But who would do this and why?
I have my suspicion, but let’s start with the facts about why I have concluded with 99% certainty that he never existed.
Each individual fact can be explained by other possible scenarios, but when you take them all together, there is only one conclusion to be made.
- The announcement for his death was only a few hours after he announced he went to the batting cages. In an accident that horrific, it would be highly unlikely that a family member would know enough and be able to announce about it on his FB page that quickly. Not to mention that most family members would be too busy trying to get information themselves about what happened before announcing it on the person’s FB page. Cleaning up a fatal accident takes a lot of time.
- The announcement was allegedly by his mother in law. Her page did not have any mention of the deaths of her own grandchidren. She only posted on his page. And she posted to “let people know” without any visible emotion.
- Mere hours after there was suspicion about his existence voiced on his page, the page was taken down. So were the pages of the two sons. For some reason, the page of the nephew was not taken down. I was unable to verify if the mother in law’s page was still up. (Update: the nephew’s page is now unavailable.)(Update: the mother in Law’s page, Judy Cohn, is also no longer available.)
- Nobody on FB had met him in person. He had hundreds of FB friends, and none of them came forward stating that they had met him.
- There were no pictures of him or his kids on any of the FB pages.
- There was no record of a crash of that magnitude anywhere in the US in the news.
- Nobody was quite sure where he lived, although there was speculation that he was New Jersey or New York.
- According to his posts and a few other things found about him on the internet - he did not exist on the internet until January 2009, where he posted several times to a CF group and Daily KOS. After that, his existed retreated to FB, the secular HS yahoo group, and the CF group, and posted often there. By 2010, he only existed on FB.
- There is no record of a Mike Feigen living in New Jersey or New York.
- There is an easily found Mike Feigen who lives in CO who is a social relations manager for the minor baseball league, as well as a Mike Feigin who lives in New Jersey and is a practicing attorney. The Mike Feigen who was said to have died was an avid baseball fan, and he claimed to be a lawyer.
These are the main facts that he did not exist. The three most important ones are that nobody has met him in person, he does not exist anywhere else on the internet, and no news article about a horrendous crash killing 4 people including three boys with CF was in the news.
(Update: I have been told that in one of his posts at posts on the Secular Homeschooler site, he said his sons’ doctor was Dorothy Bisberg, M.D. in New Jersey. I am not sure if there is a way to confirm that.)
Unless there is new information about this, there is no evidence anywhere that Mike Feigen and his children ever existed.
Which, is good, in that 4 people didn’t die in a terrible car crash. But bad in that someone has been writing as Mike Feigen in 3 different forums, and created at least 4 different FB pages to support it, since January 2009. And duping us all in the process.
Who would do this and why?
(Update: We now know who did it and why. The theories below were my original suspicions based on the evidence I had, but as more information came in, these theories were all debunked. Read the comments to find out who it was and maybe you can deduce why on your own.)
This is where the facts are a little blurry, because nobody can know for sure why people do things. But I speculate the following based on additional findings I’ve discovered in the past couple of days.
I believe that Mrs. White did it in the Hall with the Lead Pipe.
Ok, seriously. After all the given evidence, the most likely story is that Mike Feigen was actually a woman. She is a writer. I’m 95% sure of both of those things.
And I also believe that she did it because she was promoting a book she was writing, as well as her general anti-religious platform. I have about 50% certainty about this.
The next likely scenario, which I have at about 40%, is that it was someone who wants to be a writer, perhaps writing a book, or creating characters for a book, who was doing character research, and in the process, also got her kicks from the support/debate it created.
These are the bits that caused me to go down this line of thinking:
Evidence that it was a woman:
If you read the posts and comments and take away from the “Mike Feigen” persona, the writing style and choice of topics has a feminine “feel” to it. Although, it’s nearly impossible to know for sure if someone is a man or a woman, there are common differences between how men and women write. I’ll leave it up to you to decide, but the more I read his posts, especially the long ones, the more it makes sense that a woman wrote it.
The whole story is also very romantic. His wife moved in across the street from him when he was six. His nephew is like a son. His in-laws love him dearly. He struggles from day to day, and his struggles are always so much harder than anyone else’s. He’s able to stay home because both his father and her father are rich. He used to be a lawyer. It’s got all of the markings of a “perfect family who has to deal with something hard, overcome it, and ends with tragedy anyway.”
(Update, Linda Nielson took several samples of Mike’s writing and ran it through the Gender Genie - 4 out of 5 samples came up as being written by a woman.)
Evidence that it was a writer and he’s a writer’s character.
- If you look closely, especially to the longer posts, the grammar, punctuation, formatting, are all very well written.
- It’s written like a story. You could take some of his longer posts, especially the self-describing posts, and put them in a novel, and it would read very nicely.
- He rarely, if ever, veered off the character topics. (There is only one example of this that I could find, where he asks about building a pool.) The story was tight, and there was very little human variance. The first posts in 2009, were like character introductions, rather than human stories, with a tightly wrapped story about how he got to where he was and his approach to life. On his FB feed, his posts were consistent with the same topics over and over, with no variance that I could see or that I’ve been able to gather from outside sources. The character was well-defined to the point of being annoying to some, even. While it is not unusual for individuals to be obsessed with one topic, when someone posts the number of posts he had (meaning he was on the internet a lot), there would be some variance and personal injection somewhere. If it was a writer, it makes sense that he would only post on very focused topics and keep within the character’s outline.
Now, the reason I think it might have been a particular writer who’s coming out with a book (who I won’t mention by name until I have solid evidence that it’s her), is that just coincidentally, I was able to find out information about some of Mike’s “likes” on his FB page in Dec. 2011, and Jan. 2012. His likes, again, where exactly what his character would like - CF foundation, Richard Dawkins, Atheism (but not homeschooling, interestingly). But there were no oddballs like a tv show or a favorite restaurant or anything personal that we normally add along with our political or pet passions. Also, almost exactly one month before he suddenly died, he added one more like - to a writer’s page, who happened to be writing a book about secularism, and who was going to end her stint as a newspaper columnist - on the topic of atheism. He added her when she announced she was very soon going to retire as a columnist, and was going to write a book. Also, the writing style of this person’s few updates, and Mike’s writing style are eerily similar.
The story fits easily - Mike Feigen was a research character for her book, and also a way for her to come up with ideas for her column.
(Update: After receiving more information about this person, it seems unlikely it’s her. It might be someone in a similar situation, but I don’t think it’s the original person I was suspecting. Unless I get more info, I will not pursue this particular possibility further.)
And, on the side, what the heck, it also felt good to debate and be a fundamentalist atheist and nobody would attach it to her real name.
The details, we will probably never know - about who and why she did it. But this story makes sense to me.
The second possibility, is that it was actually a writer who is not successful, yet, who is a very good writer, doing research for a character or a book, and who also has personal experience with CF. So, everyone, keep an eye out for a character in a book in the future who has this character profile - single homeschooling dad, CF kids, and is a staunch atheist. n any case, as soon as she saw that people were looking into who she was, she freaked, and deleted the accounts.
Both of these stories make sense to me, and until there is more evidence to show otherwise, this is what I suspect. It explains why the person was able to keep it up for so long, why they were interested in it, why it was believable, and why they left so abruptly.
Some have speculated that it was a crazy person looking for attention. This is always a possibility when something like this happens. But usually, attention seeking people aren’t that good at keeping their stories straight. It’s still a possibility, but I put it at 10%.
Although, I must add, that no matter what the reason, even if it was to do a character study, there has to have been a bit of a sociopathic tendency with the person who did it, to be callous and detached enough as to pull so many people in, and then just turn them off with an abrupt “he’s dead” and not even a wave goodbye.
And that, is the story of Mike Feigen. The fake person who infiltrated the homeschooling and CF community, who made friends and enemies, and who pulled at our heartstrings both when he was “alive” and when he died.