'I'm really sorry this happened': U.S. woman says she was unknowingly part of Saskatoon white package case
Samantha Field made freelance video online, and then she became subject of Canada-wide police search
Samantha Field thought she was hired as an online freelancer to read from a book called The Floppy Hat aloud on camera.
But she says she unknowingly got herself into the middle of a complex case involving bomb threats and white powder scares that paralyzed parts of Saskatoon. Entire city blocks were shut down and buildings evacuated.
"I can't believe this is actually happening," Field said in a Skype interview from her home in North Carolina on Wednesday morning.
Alexa Emerson, 31, from Saskatoon, who also goes by the name Amanda Totchek, is in Saskatoon police custody and is charged with more than 80 offences involving bomb threats and white powder scares. A court was told that the threats cost the city police and firefighters well over $200,000 in resources.
Emerson is charged with sending suspicious packages to businesses, schools and the Saskatoon Cancer Centre. The packages were sent in the spring and last fall.
All of those threats, allegedly made by Emerson, turned out to be hoaxes.
Field and her partner, Brandon Slater, say they were caught up in the ongoing saga when they agreed to do a freelance video for a person on the website Fiverr in March.
Unbeknownst to Field, that video, in which she plays the part of a woman confessing to white powder threats, was sent to media outlets in Saskatoon in April. She also suggested that Emerson was wrongly charged.
Police had been looking for the woman in the video for months, hoping that she could help with the case against Emerson. Police have said they do not believe the woman knew the video's intended purpose.
Field said she first heard about the story last week when her brother sent her a link to news piece about police searching for a mystery woman who appeared in an apparent confessional video.
"Honestly, I thought it was fake. I thought it was some joke my little brother is playing on me," Field said.
"Then I started looking around and it was on other sites and it was real. It was definitely in shock and disbelief."
Field said she was hired by a person using the name "alexemme" to read a part of the book called the The Floppy Hat. The freelance site does not require people to use real names or real addresses.
Field and her partner did not think anything was amiss. They run an online company where they produce videos and tips for people who want to improve their communications skills. The Fiverr gig was a side job, and after it was done and she was paid Field said she didn't think anymore about it.
"We sent it back to her [alexemme]. We got five-star reviews. She said, 'Thank you much for bringing my characters to life,'" said Field. "She was very lovely. And we thought that was that. It was just part of her book."
'I'm really sorry this happened'
After learning about the national police hunt up in Canada, Field said she contacted Saskatoon police on Sunday. But she said she still hasn't heard back.
Police confirmed Tuesday that a woman had reached out to them, claiming to be the person in the video. They say they are attempting to contact her.
Field said knowing that she was part of high-profile case and that hundreds of people were searching for her online, she felt compelled to speak out and set the record straight.
"I just want to apologize, really, for being involved in any way. I had no idea something like that this would happen ... I'm really sorry this happened," she said.
She hopes that by speaking publicly, her reputation will be restored.
"At first I was actually quite worried. I don't like the idea that my face is out there and attached to something so negative and something so terrible," she said.
"However, I do think this is an opportunity for me to get out there and set the story straight and hopefully teach a lesson to people to get the full story before judging."
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