The revelation that Bethany Storro was not attacked but instead splashed acid in her own face has left her community shocked and saddened with disbelief, and the hoax has left some angry.
"It makes me sick. I don't understand why would anyone need attention that badly?" said Vancouver, Wash., resident Marjorie Donovan.
Vancouver Police announced Thursday that 28-year-old Storro had fabricated the Aug. 30 attack that left her severely burned and garnered media attention worldwide -- including an invitation to appear on Oprah Winfrey's talk show.
"I'm shocked," was all that Pamela Storro, Storro's former mother-in-law, would say of her former daughter-in-law's alleged confession. Earlier this week she told ABC News that rumors that the acid attack was a hoax were "insane" and that there was "no way" her former daughter-in-law would do this to herself.
Bethany Storro has not made an official statement to the media that the attack was a hoax.
John Pax, the gym owner who held a fundraising to help offset Storro's medical expenses following the attack, said that he too is in "disbelief."
"We put aside our business because we found someone in need, one of our own members," he said. "We felt for her."
Nancy Neuwalt, Storro's mother, said that she is focusing on helping her daughter recover from the tragedy before seeking answers. "As to the question of why she did this, there were no signs and we really don't know why at this point but it is our hope the medical community can find answers," Neuwalt said.
"She has got a long road ahead of her and we are going to walk it with her," she added.
Storro had originally told authorities a stranger had splashed acid in her face while she walked through a popular park in Vancouver, Wash. But police said that soon after they began investigating the claims -- which included releasing a sketch of a suspect Storro claimed was responsible for the attack -- facts weren't adding up.
"Truthfully there were red flags from the beginning," Vancouver Police Commander Marla Schuman told "Good Morning America" today. "Initially just the manner of the attack, when she's talking about being splashed in the face with acid and the demarcation, the placement of injuries on her face… the thought that she was wearing sunglasses at 7:30 at night when she normally doesn't wear sunglasses. Just small things that didn't quite add up to a picture of normalcy," Schuman said.
Police, announcing their investigation was closed Thursday, said they had spent hundreds of hours looking for a perpetrator and did not speculate on Storro's motive.
"She doesn't have a criminal history, we didn't have knowledge of any mental issues," Schuman said today.
Storro's seemingly horrifying story captured international attention and spawned donations to a fund set up for her. Schuman said Storro could face charges if they determine Storro accessed those funds, in addition to a possible charge for filing a false report.
Why Did She Do It?While Storro's hoax is extreme, attention-seeking claims of attacks have been in the news several times over the last few years.
In 2008 a volunteer for the McCain Presidential campaign made up a story about an attacker scratching a letter in her face, and in 2004 a woman in Paris falsely claimed she was marked with swastikas.
Experts report people seeking notoriety for self inflicted wounds is all too common, with 72 percent of self-injury coming from cutting and 35 percent from burning.
"For a brief moment, they inflict this pain, they feel the release, they may get attention and it makes them actually feel better for a short period of time," former FBI Agent Brad Garret told "Good Morning America."
Bethany Storro's Acid Attack Was Self-Inflicted
According to Anytime Fitness owner Pax, nobody close to Storro believed that she could have faked the attack, even when media speculation grew after she pulled out of a schedule appearance on "The Oprah Winfrey Show."
"Obviously [Storro] needs help," said Pax. "And I hope she gets it."
Pax held a fundraiser at his gym last week where he offered a self-defense class at a discounted price to attract more participants. The class, which cost $20 per person, was attended by around 80 people said Pax, garnering more than $800 for Storro's fund.
The money, according to Pax, was turned over to the bank holding on to the account, Riverview Community Bank.
A spokesperson for the bank told ABC News that "quite a buildup of funds had occurred" over the past few weeks. They are still trying to determine how to return the money to donors.
"The account has been frozen until all of this settles down," said bank spokeswoman Phyllis Kreibich. Donations had come in from all over the country, according to the bank.
Storro's Dramatic Tale
Storro originally told police that the woman who attacked her had approached her and said, "Hey pretty girl," causing her to turn around. Then the woman threw a cup of liquid in Storro's face.
Storro appeared on "Good Morning America," her head covered in gauze.
"It was like it almost didn't hurt right away because of the panic, you know, like, what just happened, and you're so focused on that, and then once I let it soak in I could start to feel it burning through my flesh," she said from her hospital bed. She said that by sheer luck, she had bought a pair of sunglasses just minutes before, which protected her eyes.
But as days went on, the attention grew. Storro was invited to be a guest on Oprah Winfrey's show, but then news outlets began to report suggestions that police suspected the attack was faked. On Tuesday the Oprah appearance was canceled.
In a post on her Facebook page last week, which has since been removed, Storro wrote that while she had originally wanted to appear on the show to "inspire people and tell them about Jesus," she changed her mind.
"The show was going to possibly turn into another direction, so my family and I decided not to go on," she wrote. "I hope you understand and will still check in on me."
A spokeswoman for Winfrey's show confirmed to ABCNews.com that Storro had canceled her appearance during which she was expected to speak about "her account of being attacked and scarred with acid." No reason for the cancellation was given by the show.
A Vancouver Voice reporter wrote about visiting the park where Storro was allegedly attacked and spoke to witnesses -- homeless people who identified themselves only by their street names -- who said Storro was "clearly alone when she dropped to the ground screaming." ABC News' Lee Ferran and Ned Potter contributed to this report.