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Woman formally charged with filing false report after alleging rape by 4 men

Taffy Wheeler. Source: J. Reuben Long Detention Center Taffy Wheeler. Source: J. Reuben Long Detention Center
The beach access near where the rape allegedly occurred. The beach access near where the rape allegedly occurred.
(Source: Google Maps) (Source: Google Maps)

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Horry County Police have formally charged a woman with filing a false police report after she reported to police she was sexually assaulted by multiple men while walking along the beach near Surfside Beach early Sunday morning and then later recanted her story.

Taffy Timbrelee Wheeler, 31, originally told police she was out for a walk on the beach near the Holiday Inn and Ocean Lakes Campground when her head was grabbed and she was pushed face-down into the sand, according to the Horry County Police report.

Wheeler said multiple men attacked her and laughed "extremely hard" while raping her. She told police Sunday she never saw the attackers, but she had felt like someone had been watching her.

On Monday, HCPD Lt. Raul Denis said Wheeler recanted her story and police were seeking an arrest warrant against her for filing a false police report of a felony.

Wheeler reportedly recanted her story after she showed officers where the assault allegedly happened, but police found no signs of an assault. Wheeler also did not have any signs of physical injuries, or of sand in her hair or ears from her face being pushed into the sand.

While police explained a lack of evidence to Wheeler, she said to her husband, “We need to tell him the truth,” according to the Horry County Police report. She then said she lied about being sexually assaulted, saying that she actually arranged to have sex that night with a former co-worker, and was scared her husband would find out, so she decided to lie about what happened.

Wheeler was formally charged on Tuesday and booked into the J. Reuben Long Detention center at 12:24 a.m. She is scheduled to appear at a bond hearing at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Lt. Denis said detectives talked to Wheeler Monday as part of the investigation and at that time, she told them she made the story up.

Wheeler's husband told police that they had been out at around 10 p.m. Saturday for a few drinks, then they returned home and he went to bed at around 2 a.m., according to the police report. He told police he thought his wife was going to bed as well, but was awakened when he heard her in the living room calling for help. That’s when he called police.

According to family, Wheeler was transported to the hospital by ambulance.

Wheeler told police she walks on the beach a lot at night, because it was a place for relaxation, the police report states.

According to one member of the family, DNA samples were taken from Wheeler at the hospital and sent off to Columbia for analysis. 

The family told WMBF News that Wheeler did not have any memory of the incident or the suspects because she was suffering from post-traumatic amnesia.

Family members of Wheeler contacted WMBF News on Sunday because they were concerned for the safety of others. A family member of Wheeler's has also posted messages to social media maintaining Wheeler's innocence, in spite of police saying that she recanted her story.

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