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- There is no evidence that U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., and actor Anne Heche were working together or knew each other before their deaths.
- Heche died from injuries sustained in a Los Angeles car crash that a medical examiner ruled accidental.
- Walorski died following a head-on vehicle collision in Indiana.
U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., and Hollywood actor Anne Heche died within days of each other as a result of injuries sustained in separate car crashes.
Now an unfounded conspiracy theory seeks to link their deaths as part of an alleged plot to silence high-profile individuals from speaking out against child sex trafficking.
"The late Jacqueline Renae Walorski and the late Anne Celeste Heche partnered fighting against pedophilia, it was shockingly revealed yesterday," a lengthy Aug. 19 Facebook post claimed.
The post’s writer cited as proof a podcast that is known to promote baseless conspiracy theories. The post said the timing and nature of the women’s deaths were suspicious because Heche was recently filming a movie about Jeffrey Epstein and sex trafficking for the Lifetime network.
"This all goes deeper than we'd like to imagine — intel agencies, elite politicians, absolutely," a quote included in the post said.
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
First, Heche, 53, was not working on a film about Jeffrey Epstein, a financier accused of trafficking and sexually abusing underage girls. We recently rated a similar claim False.
Epstein died in jail by suicide in 2019 before he could face criminal charges in court. Before her death, Heche had recently finished filming "Girl in Room 13," a story that deals with human trafficking that is due to air in September. But it wasn’t about Epstein.
Heche died Aug. 12, several days after she crashed her car into a Los Angeles home. The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner ruled her death an accident, caused by inhalation and thermal injuries she suffered after the car caught fire.
Walorski, 58, died Aug. 3, two days before Heche’s crash, when the SUV she was a passenger in collided head-on with another car on a highway in northern Indiana. The driver of the other car and two members of Walorski’s staff also died in the collision.
Investigators with the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office said the SUV, driven by a member of the congresswoman’s staff, drifted into the highway's cenrter line for "unknown reasons" and into opposing traffic. The collision remains under investigation.
Although Walorski co-sponsored several House resolutions addressing human trafficking, she did not propose any legislation related to the subject during her time as a representative. We found no evidence Walorski and Heche knew each other. A search of Google and Nexis news archives included no mentions of them together while they were alive. Social media accounts used by Walorski and Heche don’t follow one another.
The Facebook post used the far-right X22 Report podcast as the source of its claim. The podcast features an anonymous host and is known to promote baseless QAnon conspiracy theories. YouTube and Spotify removed the podcast from their websites in fall 2020 after it continued to share QAnon content and misinformation.
Holly Baird, a spokesperson from Heche’s family, did not directly address PolitiFact’s question regarding the Facebook post’s claim, but did point to the previous fact-check regarding her death.
A spokesperson for Walorski did not respond to PolitiFact's request for comment.
A Facebook post claimed the deaths of Walorski and Heche are suspicious and linked because they "partnered fighting against pedophilia."
A far-right podcast known to promote QAnon conspiracy theories was the source of the post’s claim, and we could find no evidence that the two women ever knew each other.
We rate this claim False.
PolitiFact researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.
Facebook post, Aug. 19, 2022
Archive of Facebook post
The New York Times, "What charges did Jeffrey Epstein face," Dec. 2, 2021
IMDb, "Girl in Room 13," accessed Aug. 26, 2022
Media Matters for America, "Following YouTube's ban, QAnon followers are jumping to these other major platforms," Oct. 16, 2020
PolitiFact, "What is QAnon, the baseless conspiracy spilling into US politics," Aug. 27, 2020
The New York Times, "Rumble, the Right’s Go-To Video Site, Has Much Bigger Ambitions," March 28, 2022
PolitiFact, "No, Anne Heche wasn’t murdered because she was working on a movie about Epstein," Aug. 16, 2022
Los Angeles Times, "Anne Heche, TV, film and stage actor, dies at 53 from injuries in L.A. car crash," Aug. 12, 2022
Associated Press, "Indiana Rep. Walorski, 2 staffers killed in head-on crash," Aug. 4, 2022
Elkhart County Sheriff's Office, Facebook post, Aug. 4, 2022
Email with Holly Baird, Heche family spokesperson, Aug. 23, 2022
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