Internet Rumors and Speculation Cast Pall on Koenig Acquaintance (KTVA.com exclusive) - UPDATED with response from James Koenig, Samantha's father
Young man named in prior court documents leaving state because of what police say are unfounded accusations
He said his younger brothers reported being harassed at school after Bird’s name became associated with Koenig’s disappearance, and his two younger sisters had been pulled out of school for the same reasons.
While stopping at the Holiday gas station at Northwood and Raspberry, he said a cashier left the convenience shop and approached him where he was filling up his car at Pump 8.
“He was like, ‘Hey man, where[‘s] she at?” said Bird quietly, recalling the first time someone had confronted him about the rumors swirling across the internet.
Sitting bolt upright in her chair, bright blue eyes flashing, Tammie Counts said she instinctually moved to protect her oldest son.
“I had to go down there, and I told them they’re not the police, they are not doing the investigation, they are employees that work at a gas station,” she said.
Sitting across from her son, she wore jeans and cowboy boots and spoke with a soft southern twang that masked the anger in her voice.
“Do you know what makes me so angry?” she said. “My son was home the night she was abducted.”
On the night of February 1, Counts said she had refused to let her son borrow her car because he had failed to wake up in time for an appointment earlier that day. Instead of going out, she said he had been home with the rest of the family eating fried chicken, mashed potatoes and southern-style green beans with several friends from out-of-state.
Counts had worked as a correctional officer at an East Coast maximum-security prison for seven-and-a-half-years, and she said she raised her children with a firm hand.
“I’ve always been really tough on my kids about, hey, if you do the crime you do the time,” she said, voice rising, flipping her long blonde hair over her shoulder. “He has been in trouble with the law before, and I’ve let him sit in jail, and I didn’t bail him out. I made sure that he was going to learn his lesson.”
Counts said the restraining order against her son had been filed after Bird had a brief relationship with Koenig in the fall of 2011, while Koenig was dating her current boyfriend.
“She was a nice girl,” said Counts, recalling the autumn fling. “When she came to my house she was very respectful. You know, she took her shoes off at the door. When she ate, she washed off her plate.”
Things fell apart after Koenig’s boyfriend discovered the relationship several months later. After Koenig filed for a restraining order against Bird, Counts said she contacted Butler’s law firm and handed over a series of text messages Koenig sent to Bird admitting the claims of sexual assault were false.
Now that the 18-year-old has been missing for more than a month, both Bird and his mother said the past is behind them.
“I pray to God every day some new news comes up and she gets found,” he said emotionally. “Every day.”