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
“And you know what’s so sad? I wanted to go to the vigil,” said Counts, her eyes filling with tears as she recalled the public display of support held in Town Square Park several weekends ago. “I had to light my candles at home. That was sad.”
Her voice choked up and she trailed off.
Bird said he had seen the hundreds of points of light in the park from a friend’s house nearby, and broke down when the crowd released dozens of balloons into the night sky. He said in that moment, he had wanted nothing more than to join the crowd in a silent plea for Koenig’s return.
“I can’t go down there, and just grab her dad and just give him a hug, man I can’t do none of that! I’m not wanted to be seen,” said Bird. The public sentiment fueled by online rumors was stacked against him that night.
Even though police said Bird cooperated fully with the investigation, the rumors have continued, cumulating in multiple death threats to Bird and his family. Counts said she contacted the FBI after one caller threatened to blow up her home and kill her children one by one.
“I am so scared that my son is going to walk down the street, and someone is going to just, out of hate or rage,” she began.
“I don’t sleep,” Bird injected, mumbling.
“Hey Chris, I’m talking,” his mom said admonishingly. Counts took a deep breath.
“I’m afraid someone is going to put a bullet in his head.”
She said it wasn’t just her oldest son: She also feared for her granddaughter waiting in the lobby outside of Butler’s office. Counts said she worried someone would “take a potshot” at Bird while the toddler was in the car with him, and she said Nevaeh had begun to pick up on the constant stress and worry of the past month.
“His three-year-old daughter is starting to feel it now,” said Counts. “‘Daddy, why are you sad?’”
Between the physical threats and emotional pain, Counts said she felt compelled to move her family back to North Carolina until her husband returned from his deployment with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan in November.
“We brought our son up here to give him a better life, to get him through college so he can support his three-year-old daughter,” she said. “He loves his three-year-old daughter just like James Koenig loves his [daughter].”
Bird said he would re-enroll in barber school on the East Coast, a year after he left North Carolina for a fresh start in Anchorage. Despite the tumultuous past few months, he said his priorities have remained the same.
“Barber is my trade, music is my passion and my daughter’s my life,” he said. Bird raps under the pseudonym Whyte Tyson.
But Bird said the experience also gave him a new understanding of suffering.
“I used to think being broke in a trailer with no [air conditioning] in the summer in North Carolina was bad,” he said, eyes fixed on the ground, elbows propped on his knees as he rubbed his palms together.