Perhaps, maybe for the first time in this site’s ten month history, I rushed a post. “Debunking Claims Made About The Child Victims Of Sandy Hook”, to be specific. While it still took me a handful of days to get everything just the way I wanted it (larger entries – such as the full chapter debunks – can take me weeks), the end result would have been significantly better had I waited just a little while longer.

Unlike the willfully ignorant clowns that populate the Sandy Hook denialist cult, I like to know what I’m talking about before I run my mouth. Because that’s how it’s supposed to work. What that translates to is days or weeks spent researching a claim before addressing it. Of course, in that time, ten new claims have entered the fray since they’re almost always made out of total ignorance, but there isn’t a whole hell of a lot I can do about that. So when it came time to finally drop trou and shit all over the absurd notion that the child victims of Sandy Hook not only faked their participation in the attack, but magically changed appearance, aged three years, and then performed at Super Bowl Super Bowl XLVII two months later. This unbridled insanity has resulted in the coordinated stalking of one young girl in particular, led by Wolfgang Halbig and Tony Mead of Absolute Moving in Plantation, Florida, and I needed to be sure that I had an actual understanding of anthropometry (defined as “the scientific study of the measurements and proportions of the human body”) and facial analysis to debunk it, since that’s what this goofball claim is based upon. Next to going back to school for an extended period of time and spending gobs of money in the process, I figured the best way to do that would be to pick up a book on the subject, the most relevant and comprehensive of which I found to be “Face To Face: Analysis and Comparison of Facial Features to Authenticate Identities of People in Photographs” by Joelle Steele, released in 2013, and based on her more than thirty years experience in the field.

Admittedly, I did not finish the book. At least not yet. Not because it wasn’t good or interesting (I found it to be both), but because after reading just a small chunk of it, I felt comfortable enough with the concepts presented therein to move forward with the post, confirming what most of us have known for years now: that these were absolutely, positively not the same children. And here’s where some patience would have paid off.

Shortly after I hit the Publish button, I reached out to Joelle, who offers a facial comparison service through her website, which is used primarily to authenticate old family photos, etc. Even though I have never asked for or accepted donations (let alone rake in six figures, like Wolfgang Halbig has done in the past), or so much as earned a single red cent from this website, I was willing to pay Joelle out of my own pocket for her expert opinion on whether or not Sandy Hook victim Avielle Richman and the aforementioned young girl who performed as part of the Super Bowl choir were one in the same. After all, I couldn’t find anyone more qualified than the woman who quite literally wrote the book on the subject.

When I contacted Joelle, I introduced myself as a blogger who spent a lot of time researching the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. I wasn’t sure if she was aware that the shooting was the subject of a number of conspiracy theories (most people aren’t), so I explained the situation, and the Super Bowl angle in particular, to her. This was done in order to avoid any legal and/or ethical issues. And while I made it clear as to where I stood on the subject, I told her that I wanted her honest, unbiased opinion, and that I would gladly pay her for it up front. Joelle wrote back and said that she was willing to do the work, but would need at least three high-quality photographs of each subject so that she can enlarge them for analysis, as is her standard procedure. In return, I sent over the absolute best photographs that I could find, for her approval. Shortly thereafter, Joelle wrote back. This is her reply, in its entirety:


From: Face Comparisons
Subject: RE: Hi, Joelle. Some questions…

This is a real no-brainer. I don’t even have to measure anything to tell you these are not the same girl. I can see at a glance how far off they are in terms of appearance. And age has nothing to do with this comparison at all. The face lengthens and teeth can change with age, but those are irrelevant in this comparison. Here’s what I immediately see:

Ears don’t match in shape, pattern, and placement on head.
Jaws don’t match, most evident in smiling views.
Chins don’t match and don’t look alike either.
Eyes don’t match in orbits and lids.
Pupil distance proportions don’t match.
Forehead proportions don’t match.
Nose length and width proportions don’t match.
Brow ridges don’t match.

With the exception of the ears, these are all based on the bones, the infrastructure of the face. If they don’t match, it’s not the same person. Period. And I would rule out a match based on ears alone, but the overwhelming number of non-matches back that up.

And that about says it all, doesn’t it? Here we have a true, verifiable expert on the subject of facial analysis and comparison (unlike Jim Appleton, whose specialty is video production), who took one look at these girls and immediately saw that the difference between the two was so crystal clear, she wouldn’t even take my money. She turned down an easy payday.

I thanked Joelle for her time and honesty and asked her if it would be okay for me to publish our correspondence here, which she approved. Joelle is a true professional, and I would certainly encourage anyone looking for an expert facial analysis and comparison to get in touch with her via her website, I would also encourage anyone with an interest in the subject of anthropometry to pick up her book, “Face To Face: Analysis and Comparison of Facial Features to Authenticate Identities of People in Photographs”, which is available in paperback, as well as for the Kindle. I would even encourage Wolfgang Halbig to reach out to Joelle with any requests for facial comparisons; I would just ask that he not stiff her, much like he did with me.

Lastly, I’d like to leave you with the following tweet from James Appleton’s son, describing his father’s dealings with Halbig:

23 Thoughts on “An Actual Expert Weighs In On The Sandy Hook Super Bowl Choir Conspiracy Theory

  1. Thank you for your work. Getting things right is much more work than getting things wrong.

  2. CW Wade on November 2, 2016 at 5:06 am said:

    Thank you for doing this. The comparison is obvious of course, but awesome to get THE expert to confirm it and also to have her quantify the differences we can instinctively see, but perhaps not really know how to verbalize.

  3. Love it, love it, love it!!!! What more can I say?

  4. You should say how you decided that the pics of the two alleged Avielle Richmans had the best likenesses among all the possible candidates for comparison, and which pics you sent to Joelle.

    • Shill Murray on November 5, 2016 at 3:23 am said:

      That’s fair. I was intentionally vague in regard to the source of the photographs out of concern for the living girl’s privacy.

      In order to do a comparison, Joelle requires high quality photographs that clearly show all facial features, especially the eyes. Full-face, straightly aligned photos are highly preferable, and she’ll reject the work if the submitted exemplars are not up to her standards. Luckily, I was able to locate three photos for each girl (or six photos of the same girl separated by four years, if you’re a wild-eyed conspiracy goof) that ticked all of those boxes. I believe one of the photos of Avielle was of one the same photos Halbig submitted to alleged expert James Appleton. Another was of Avielle with her parents, and the third was of a slightly younger Avielle, alone at a table. All were high quality photographs, taken head-on and showing the entirety of the face. One of the photos of the other girl was taken at the Super Bowl, and was the only one I found that put her front and center. Joelle prefers solo photographs. The other two were taken from the Newtown Bee. Again, all three met or exceeded Joelle’s requirements, and all six photos were the absolute best photos publicly available.

      I can certainly share the photos of Avielle that I sent over for analysis, if necessary, but I will not do the same with the photos of the other girl. While they are public – available to anyone able to find them – I just don’t feel comfortable sharing them knowing full well that they will likely end up in the hands of these stalkers.

      I’m not Wolfgang Halbig, James Fetzer, Tony Mead, etc. What I mean by that is that I don’t mislead anyone, and I certainly don’t falsify evidence. I have no reason to.

      Hope that helps clear things up.

      • kberken on February 8, 2017 at 4:43 pm said:

        This is great. I never heard of this woman before this and I will check out her site.
        Just wondering if she has looked at all the other kids’ pics to compare them to the Super Bowl pictures and video. Wouldn’t that add even more credibility to your claim?
        I looked at the video and then the supposed match up for maybe a dozen children. I saw a few similarities but some were really a stretch. I’d love to see what Joelle thinks of the rest. Thanks for your work.

        • Shill Murray on February 8, 2017 at 6:51 pm said:

          I don’t believe that she has. I know that I haven’t asked her to. Please remember that this is a service she normally charges money for (somewhere around $70, I believe), and she was nice enough to provide me with this assessment for free. Now I’ve never asked for or received a single cent in exchange for what I do here, so any further analysis would have to be paid for by me, with that money coming directly out of my pocket. And after she so emphatically dismissed the absurd idea that Avielle Richman is the girl who performed at the Super Bowl (whose name I know is out there, but I prefer to keep private), I just didn’t see the point. It was over. That’s what these goofballs were hanging their hat on, and it was shown to be total hokum, so anything beyond that was superfluous. That ends up being especially true when the kinds of people making these claims won’t be deterred, no matter how many times you show them to be wrong.

          By the way, I would hesitate to call this “my claim”. This is just the reality. It is, on its face, a ridiculous idea. Not only do the children barely look like one another, but they aren’t even the same age! So I’m not making a claim here, simply stating the obvious.

  5. What a great site! I have a good friend who is a devoted Sandy Hook denier who cites Wolfgang and Fetzer and CrisisActor (youtuber) incessantly. The school was closed, the school was moldy, the parents were all actors, there are no photographs of the kids, no helicopters were called, etc. I get tired of slapping down all of his insanity so now I can just direct him to this site!

    • Shill Murray on December 6, 2016 at 9:09 pm said:

      Thanks, David. Absolutely, share the site with him. Not even Sandy Hook denier is a lost cause (though a good many of them are). The only one of those talking points that happens to be true is that no Life Star helicopters were called. They didn’t need to be; they’re not a given for every emergency.

  6. Tom Wheeler on December 8, 2016 at 3:37 pm said:

    According to the hoax playbook, play 1A is to release a new piece of dis-information that, once it gains traction, can be easily debunked, thereby calling into question the facts which are unable to be refuted. Good luck with this but transparent.

    • Shill Murray on December 8, 2016 at 3:46 pm said:

      Jeez, how convenient for you and your buddies: everything is an irrefutable fact until it is proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to be absolute twaddle, and then it becomes “disinformation” placed there by… shrug! Please. Get over yourself. Nearly four years and countless spooky YouTube videos later, the Sandy Hook denier movement is in its death throes. No one is sitting around, wasting their time by planting disinformation in order to make you all look stupid. You’ve all done a fine job of that on your own.

      This particular nugget – the spectacularly stupid Super Bowl claim – has been circling the tank for years now, and conspiracy theorists have enthusiastically latched on to it and bandied it about as one of their best pieces of evidence. If it so easy to debunk, what does that say about the people who continued to propagate it? Let me guess: they were “disinfo agents” all along, right? Isn’t that how this works?

      “the facts which are unable to be refuted”

      Hah. Try me.

    • Tom, who is releasing disinformation? Where did the Wheeler/Aldenberg claim come from? Who introduced the school closed since 2008 claim? The Superbowl kids? No kids evacuated? Who took Carvers comment out of context, where he hoped the trauma of the event didn’t come crashing down on his staff or on the people of Newtown? I know who debunked these claims, but who put them out there?

  7. Can we please see the pictures you sent?

    • Shill Murray on February 28, 2017 at 2:39 am said:

      All of the photos I sent over to Joelle – all six of them – are publicly available. It took a bit of digging to find photos that were of high-quality and that provided clear, head-on views of each girl, but they’re certainly out there. That said, please keep in mind that the living girl – the girl who was falsely accused of being Avielle Richman – has been relentlessly stalked by some of these folks (including Wolfgang Halbig and Tony Mead). So the idea of sharing photos of her makes me incredibly uneasy.

      If you don’t believe me or the outcome, I would invite you to dig up a few high quality photos of each girl for yourself and send them over to Joelle, along with payment for her services. In fact, I invite all deniers to do this, and of course they’re more than welcome to do this with every single child that performed at the Super Bowl. Even though the truth will do very little to dissuade them (because they’re mentally ill), it’ll be easy money for Joelle.

  8. John T Mauldin on March 21, 2017 at 3:29 pm said:

    I like it when folks come together and share views. Great site, stick with it!

  9. Ricky on August 8, 2017 at 8:33 am said:

    I realize this is old and I don’t revel in the reignition of this topic for any of you, but I was wondering if there is an explination for Keith Alexander’s responses to questions posed to him by mr.wolf in their hearing. I don’t understand anyone within the hoaxer community’s insistence on attempting to compare photos of children as evidence of anything. The notion that the photos prove anything is ridiculous and honestly not worthy of the time you devoted to refuting it. Regardless, I am concerned about the questions mr. wolf posed to Mr. Alexander in their hearing. Specifically regarding his responses. It’s equally puzzling to me that the school board minutes from the time period surrounding the Super Bowl do not include the subject. Is there something I am missing here? Would love to have this cleared up for me.

    Link to the hearing in question:

    -Thank you in advance

    • Shill Murray on August 8, 2017 at 1:54 pm said:

      Hi Ricky,

      Which responses specifically are you concerned about?

      As the Super Bowl trip was arranged and paid for by an anonymous donor (rather than a “field trip” organized by the school), I’m not sure how much discussion it would warrant from the Board. It wouldn’t present them with any budgetary or logistical challenges. And while they don’t mention the Super Bowl specifically, the February 14, 2013 minutes include a statement praising the Sandy Hook Chorus as well as the Children of Newtown Choir for their work in the aftermath of the shooting. You have to assume that this includes the Super Bowl. The statement reads:

      Item 1 – Communication Regarding the Children of Newtown Chorus

      MOTION: Mrs. Roche moved that the Board of Education accept and distribute the following statement:

      The Newtown Board of Education greatly appreciates the efforts of those who have helped our community on the path toward healing. Many individuals and groups, near
      and far, have made every effort to celebrate the lives of those lost too early and remind us daily that, regardless of the events that occurred on December 14th, Newtown is a beautiful community that pulls together in time of need. We are grateful for their efforts. The Board is proud of the volunteer efforts of many students from our district going on each day in Sandy Hook and Newtown. The Sandy Hook Chorus and the Children of Newtown Choir are two of the groups that demonstrate the resilience of our community. Their beautiful voices have shown the world that, while Newtown is mourning, we are strong. They show the world that we are Newtown and we choose love. We are grateful for the funds they have raised for the United Way and the Newtown Youth Academy, which will support us as we move forward by providing much needed on-going services for our community. We support them in their efforts moving forward and know that their voices will help to heal our hearts on this Valentine’s Day and in the months and years to come.

      If you don’t believe Halbig’s theory that the children not only survived the shooting, but magically aged five years in two months, changed their physical appearance, and then performed in front of the whole world at the Super Bowl (and good on you for not buying into that one, because it is absolutely insane), then why does anything about the choir’s appearance bug you? What sort of conclusion are you leading to here?

      • Truth seeker on December 7, 2017 at 8:40 pm said:

        They didn’t age the original pictures of the alleged victims were old.

        • Shill Murray on January 19, 2018 at 9:34 pm said:

          Where did I say that they aged the original pictures? Furthermore, how does either scenario make any more sense than the other? They’re both ludicrous in theory as well as practice. The facial features do not match and, as seen in my other entry on this nonsense, older photos show some of the children surrounded by or wearing items that lock their age into a very specific time-frame. For instance, in order for Avielle Richman to be 9-10 years old at the time of the 2012 Super Bowl (the age of your average fourth grader), then she would have had to have been between 8-9 years old when the photo of her and her family in front of their Christmas tree – again, available here – was taken. This photo would have to show Avielle Richman roughly one year removed from her alleged appearance at the Super Bowl, and that is very obviously not the case.

  10. They look the same to me, some of the boys are identical even still, its quite a coincidence to have all these lookalikes in the same place. I don’t think the suggestion is that they aged 3 years I think the suggestion is they used old photos to fabricate people who never existed

    • Shill Murray on October 14, 2017 at 7:42 pm said:

      Mike, I’ve conclusively shown that they are not – and cannot be – the same person. Joelle Steele, who does this for a living, thought the idea was so preposterous that she wouldn’t even take my money to tell me so. So whether or not you personally think they look the “same” is irrelevant. They are not. That is a fact. As for the idea that “some” of the boys are “identical”, well that’s just beyond absurd. Beyond very superficial similarities common in most Caucasian children, they look nothing alike. But feel free to tell me which children you think are “identical” and I will happily tell you how they are not.

      I don’t think the suggestion is that they aged 3 years

      Of course that’s not the suggestion, because that would be impossible. But we’re still being asked to believe that first-graders in December somehow became fourth-graders in February. And because that is impossible, deniers were forced to either abandon their goofy Super Bowl claim (impossible as they would never admit they were wrong about anything) or somehow make it fit, and they attempted to do that by cooking up the absolutely batshit idea that everything we’ve seen thus far – from photographs to documents, etc. – are actually older than we’ve been told. But that’s also impossible, because not only do we have photographs full of time-stamped evidence (please see this entry for some of these photos), but we’ve seen copies of Noah Pozner’s birth certificate, death certificate, etc, further proving that not only was he an actual human child, but that he was only six years-old at the time of his murder. As were the other victims. And we have never seen a shred of evidence to the contrary, but it’s extremely important to people like Halbig to continue living the lie because it’s one of his main sources of income.

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