June 13, 2009— -- In painstaking detail and heartbreaking prose, a young single mother shared with the world the compelling story of carrying to term a baby she knew was going to die.
The baby, a girl named April because of the month she was due, was to be born with a rare disorder called holoprosencephaly that would prevent her brain from properly developing, cause her face to be deformed and ultimately result in her early death.
In just a few short months, hundreds of thousands of readers driven to the site from other anti-abortion and religious sites praised the mother for her strength and her devout Christian faith.
At first "B" or "April's Mom," the monikers the anonymous blogger used, asked only for her readers' prayers. And they came in droves; not just from readers caught up in a riveting real life drama, or from Christians who celebrated her story as an anti-abortion parable, but from mothers of sick and dying children who wanted to commiserate and lend their support.
But soon, April's Mom asked for more than just prayers. She posted a P.O. Box, to which readers could send gifts or money and on the side of the page where there was once only a form for submitting well-prayers emerged a list of advertisements.
Though she described visits with her doctors, plans for her delivery and posted pictures of herself and eventually the baby -- who was born weeks late last Sunday and died hours later -- none of the story was true.
The hoax was uncovered by the same women who read and commented on the site, littleoneapril.blogspot.com. Once-loyal readers became increasingly suspicious by a lack of information, constantly changing due dates and a planned home delivery.
But it was the photo of baby April Rose, posted for a moment and then taken down, that would unravel the intricate weeks-long lie.
"It wasn't a photo of a baby at all," said Elizabeth Russell, a mother and maker of lifelike Reborn Dolls, "It was a doll. I have that same doll."
"I've made that doll enough times that there was no mistaking it. I couldn't believe what she was trying to pull. It's outrageous that she would manipulate people like that," said Russell, a 31-year-old mother of two from Buffalo, N.Y."
"People now are going to look at people who are really in need with skepticism," she said. "It's not fair to people with real tragedies who need help and prayers."
That outrage spread as readers pieced together more elements of the deception, eventually outing "April's Mom" as Becca Beushausen, a 26-year-old from Mokena, Ill., a town outside Chicago.
"I think it's sick, what she did," said Briane Gibson, a 24-year-old blogger who quickly became suspicious and helped identify Beushausen, when her real name -- as the site's creator -- briefly flashed on screen when the blog would load.
"She was feeding off people's sympathy. She was making money of people," Gibson said.
"She wasted the time of so many people who could have been helping real families in need," she said.
When she realized she had been exposed, Beushausen quickly took down the blog, and apparently tried to erase her digital identity from Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.
Calls to Beushausen and her parents were not returned to ABCNews.com.
In an interview Friday with the Chicago Tribune, Beushausen admitted to the deception and apologized for the hoax.
"I know what I did was wrong," she told the Tribune. "I've been getting hate mail. I'm sorry because people were so emotionally involved."
"I've always liked writing. It was addictive to find out I had a voice that people wanted to hear," Beushausen said. "Soon, I was getting 100,000 hits a week, and it just got out of hand."
"I didn't know how to stop," she added. "One lie led to another."
That apology is little solace to thousands of bloggers who followed her posts nightly, sending in prayers and mailing gifts.
"I'm still feeling a lot of hate towards her," said Jacki Gallagher, a 30-year-old blogger from British Columbia who followed the site from early on.
"Reading her site was part of my life. I hand make toys and was ready to send something, because she had moved me so much. She wrote beautifully and that was really the seller. She didn't just make short posts, she put a lot of time an effort into this," Gallagher said.
Beushausen told the Tribune that she did not make much money from the site and that she encouraged people to make donations to an Illinois ministry and pregnancy clinic called PASS.
"We never had any direct contact with this woman and we are investigating," said Rick Ligthart, executive director of PASS. "We know of one, at least, donation related to this hoax and we want to make sure we do the right thing.
"This lie is another indication of the brokenness this country's moral fabric," he said.
The one known donation received by PASS came from Ryan and Raechel Myers. Raechel Myers and Beushausen attended college together and the couple printed and sold T-shirts to raise funds.
The couple also reportedly donated at least $300 to Beushausen.
Making the deception all the more painful, the couple reportedly lost a child to the same illness Beushuasen claimed April had.
"She robbed the story from her friends. It's just sick," said Russell Myers.
In recent days, the blog had begun to surface ads offered through a network of women's blogs called BlogHer.
According to the company, Beushausen had yet to receive payment for showing the ads on her site and would not.
"This blogger violated our editorial guidelines and, as such, is no longer a member of our publishing network. She has never received payment from BlogHer, and won't," said Lisa Stone, CEO of BlogHer, in a statement.