Face­book out­law

Hartford Courant - - Front Page - By Chris­tine Dempsey

Peo­ple all over the coun­try are talk­ing — and singing — about Jose Simms, the wanted man who promised to turn him­self in if Tor­ring­ton po­lice get 15,000 likes on his Face­book wanted poster. Po­lice have sur­passed their goal with more than 25,000 likes, but still, no Simms.

Peo­ple all over the coun­try are talk­ing — and singing — about Jose Simms, the wanted man­who­promised to turn him­self in if the Tor­ring­ton po­lice get 15,000 likes on his Face­book wanted poster.

Po­lice have more than sur­passed their goal with more than 25,000 likes, but still, no Simms. Per­haps not sur­pris­ingly, the man ac­cused of ly­ing to po­lice and blow­ing off court ap­pear­ances is a no-show. Simms is wanted on seven counts of fail­ure to ap­pear in court on charges that in­clude falsely re­port­ing an in­ci­dent.

“When we reached the 15,000, we weren’t overly op­ti­mistic he would sur­ren­der him­self but hoped he would stay true to his word,” said Lt. Brett John­son, who posted Simms’ wanted poster on­line. “The at­ten­tion it’s re­ceived now is great so long as it leads to his ar­rest.”

That at­ten­tion came from as far as Cal­i­for­nia and in­cluded a ra­dio per­for­mance in Nashville. A coun­try-poprock-group called Dixie Jade sang a song about Simms’s bro­ken prom­ise on The Ty Bentli ra­dio show Thurs­day, to the tune of Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive.”

“Seven war­rants. Out for your ar­rest. Now you’re turn­ing into a Face­book con­test. Did you lose at sports? Did you not make home­com­ing court? Well, the po­lice let you have your fun but you’re still on the run. And you promised. It’s time to do your time. ‘Cause you’re wanted. And you’ve got 15,000 likes. Tor­ring­ton will find you. Hope you like wear­ing stripes. ‘Cause you’re wanted and you’ve got 15,000 likes. … It’s up to 21,000 likes. Turn your­self in tonight.”

It was Simms him­self who asked on Face­book why John­son had not in­cluded his wanted poster, Lt. Bart Barown said. When John­son de­cided to put it on­line, Simms chal­lenged him, say­ing he’d turn him­self in for 20,000 likes. John­son got him down to 15,000. John­son, who works the mid­night shift, posted it about 3 a.m. Wed­nes­day.

The po­lice got off to a bit of a slow start get­ting likes, and Simms him­self taunted them, post­ing the fol­low­ing com­ment: “…only 13,800 more ‘likes’ to go nice job Tor­ring­ton.”

Now that the de­part­ment sur­passed its goal and even 20,000 likes, Simms has de­ac­ti­vated his Face­book page, Barown said.

The de­part­ment hasn’t been re­ly­ing only on Face­book to find Simms, though, Barown said. They’ve been look­ing for him through the tra­di­tional com­bi­na­tion of knock­ing on doors and call­ing peo­ple who know him. Every time they get a tip that he is out of town or out of state — they heard he might be in New York — they ask that town’s po­lice de­part­ment for help.

Still, the In­ter­net’s reach stunned Barown, who said some 500,000 peo­ple learned about Simms through so­cial me­dia.

“It’s amaz­ing,” Barown said.

And it still might help po­lice find him.

“I think to­mor­row’s birth­day,” he said Fri­day. “Hope­fully we can give him a birth­day present. Tuck him away for the week­end.”

Chris­tine Dempsey can be reached at [email protected]

Simms

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