People think this creepy daycare centre is hiding a dark secret
On the internet, almost anything can inspire conspiracy theorists, no matter how innocuous the subject. It could be a tiny smudge on picture taken by a NASA telescope, or the sight of contrails in the sky above our heads, and suddenly a bunch of tinfoil hat-wearing "experts" will appear from out of the woodwork to wake up the "sheep" to their version of the truth. It's hardly a new phenomenon: seeing patterns where there are none, or inventing grandiose narratives to justify co-incidences, have always been an irrepressible part of human nature, especially when people suspect foul play.
Just look at the furore surrounding the now comprehensively discredited Pizzagate conspiracy theory. For those who have never heard the term before, Pizzagate to a viral hoax which was perpetuated by members of the alt-right during the 2016 presidential election. After the emails of Hillary Clinton's chief campaign manager, John Podesta, were hacked and subsequently made public by WikiLeaks, a number of theorists alleged that the emails contained coded messages references to a paedophilic trafficking network secretly connected to several prominent Democrats in Clinton's campaign, which supposedly operated out of a number of pizza restaurants. The theory was extensively discredited by a number of organisations and by law enforcement, but proponents still insist that pizzarias are actually a front for institutional child abuse.
But now, in a story which eerily echoes Pizzagate, a mob of conspiracy theorists have lashed out at a perfectly-ordinary (albeit deserted-looking) children's daycare centre: accusing it of being a front for every criminal enterprise under the sun, including child abuse, drugs, organ harvesting, or even of being a secret government black site. The trouble began when a Reddit-user going by the handle "discogodfather6922" posted an image of a boxy, lime-green building to the subreddit r/SaltLakeCity.
He captioned it: "What's the deal with this place? Lived across the street from it for 5 years, never seen a kid there." The building in question was a photograph of the "Fun Time Kidz Day Care", which stands at the intersection of 1300 South and 300 East. Although it does appear to be a little bit creepy and somewhat lifeless, with the run-down surroundings and deserted playground outside, there was nothing in the picture that implied any sinister goings-on.
After the"discogodfather6922" made the original post, a number of conspiracy theorists, most of whom relayed mutually contradictory information, took to the comments to speculate about the true nature of "Fun Time Kidz". For example, a redditor by the name of "thewhumbler" stated: "Hello, I'm a nearby resident. I just investigated this place. EXTREMELY dubious. People inside (children among them) but I could only see this by peeking through the gaps in THE CARDBOARD THEY USED TO BOARD UP THE WINDOWS. I'm going to try and post some videos ... then I will call investigative services. [sic]"
The same user later claimed that he had asked the police about it, and they had told him that the building was closed. Why then was the building inhabited? Assuming of course, that this redditor was telling the truth. Another person claimed to be a courier who had been inside the daycare, and added that: "The only strange thing is, no matter what time of day I showed up with their mail, it always seemed to be nap time." Strangely enough however, it seemed that a lot of the posts accusing the daycare of hiding secrets came from accounts that had been registered very recently.
The fevered speculation got so probing and paranoid that admins deleted the original thread from r/SaltLakeCity, after hundreds of posts had been made about the business. After that, the conspiracy theorists migrated to r/conspiracy, r/conspiro, and r/subredditdrama, and only got more obsessive in their investigations, despite the fact that they had uncovered no concrete evidence of wrongdoing at all.
The conspiracy theorists started harassing the business, and posted personal information about the owner online. Eventually, a 4chan user began even posting photos that had been taken through the building's windows, while another concerned citizen contacted the newspaper The Salt Lake Tribune and asked its journalists to investigate the daycare. Some amateur sleuths even showed up to peer through the windows and stake out the premises; much to the consternation of the business owner.
However, those who presumed that "Fun Time Kidz" was innocent until proven guilty, and who were willing to investigate a little more objectively, learned that the property was owned by Chunga International, LLC. According to Utah Department of Commerce records, there have been two owners since 2012, and the only controversy ever attached to it was a 2014 complaint about weeds. That issue was resolved within a month.
It seems as though the reason the building looked so creepy, and the reason why children were almost always absent, was simply because the local business was failing in a low-income neighbourhood, and that they often took care of children from lower class areas. Burdened with an ugly exterior, but not a place where sex abusers or criminals had eluded police detection. The moral of this story seems to be that, no matter how noble your intentions are, it's best not to jump to conclusions without evidence to justify your claims ... not that this is likely to deter conspiracy theorists however, who will just move on to the next subject which piques their interest; whether it's the Parkland school shooting or even the music of Taylor Swift.