ABC News’ Barbara A. Schmitt reports:
A hitchhiker who claimed he was shot while researching a book on the kindness of strangers has admitted to police that he shot himelf, authorities said today.
Ray Dolin, 39, admitted Thursday night shooting himself in the arm and making up the story about being shot by a stranger.
“Mr. Dolin made a full confession himself,” says Valley County Sheriff Glen Meier. Meier says the district attorney is investigating the incident and says charges could be filed.
Dolin, who is from West Virginia, said he was writing a book about the kindness of strangers.
The aspiring author was making his way across the country allegedly doing research for his book. Dolin told police he was wounded in a drive-by shooting Saturday night while hitchhiking along a rural Montana highway. The report triggered a massive manhunt for the shooter.
Meier’s team began to canvas the area and eventually arrested Lloyd Christopher Danielson III, 52, who they believe was under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time.
“I’m very glad my guys were able to apprehend the suspect,” Meier said a the time of the arrest. Danielson, who’s bail was set at $100,000, was subsequently freed after a further examination of his vehicle and alibi.
“After Mr. Danielson was cleared of the wrongdoing, we moved the investigation into another direction,” the sheriff told ABC News. Meier and his team then pressed the alleged victim who confessed soon after.
Meier says the hoax stretched his limited resources.
“I have no idea how much it cost us, but, it’s going to come to a lot of money,” he said.
Meier says there are a number of other crimes, such as a sexual assault, that his seven deputies could have been spending more time on. “My guys work their tails off and we really didn’t need something like this to happen,” he said.
Dolin persisted in his allegation into the morning before he gave his confession to police, recounting the incident from his hospital bedside to the Associated Press Thursday. “He came up, pulls up at a normal speed, stops, points, shoots and drives off. … I did not get a good description,” Dolin said.
Dolin wouldn’t have been the first author to drum up a storyline. In 2006, James Frey’s best-selling memoir, “A Million Little Pieces,” about an alcoholic going through the recovery process was lambasted after an investigation by the investigative website the Smokinggun.com found most of his chronicle was false.