The Knoxville News-Sentinel has announced it is no longer standing by the accuracy of the story that went viral about a Santa Claus who claimed a sick child died in his arms after he delivered gifts to his hospital bedside.

Turns out, Santa may have been the naughty one.

In the original story, published on Dec. 14, Eric Schmitt-Matzen told the paper he was summoned by a nurse to the bedside of a terminally ill 5-year-old boy who wanted to see Santa. The former Army ranger who is a double for Mr. Claus, said he had promised to protect the identities of the child’s family and the nurse.

"Since publication, the News Sentinel has done additional investigation in an attempt to independently verify Schmitt-Matzen’s account. This has proven unsuccessful," said Jack McElroy, the paper's editor, in a statement.
The story was picked up by USAToday and other major news oulets.
McElroy stated that facts about Schmitt-Matzen's background checks out but that even with further reporting, the paper could not verify his account was either accurate or inaccurate. did not publish the initial story because of concerns about the facts in the story.