Triz Jefferies is not the Kensington Strangler, but someone sure wanted the entire city to think he was, according to police.
Fliers with Jefferies' name, photo and address were spread throughout Kensington. And after that same flier appeared on Facebook and was distributed via text message calling him a suspect in the stranglings, Jefferies, 24, became a prisoner in his own home yesterday.
Scared of the vigilante justice he might face at the hands of the people milling outside of his home, Jefferies called police and asked them to "get me out of my house," said police spokesman Lt. Ray Evers. A patrol car escorted him to the Special Victims Unit to be interviewed last night, Evers said.
"It's pretty messed up, whoever put his name out there knowing this wasn't the guy but that it could cause him great harm," Evers said. "He's very, very scared about what's occurred and he believes that someone he had issues with put his photo out as the Kensington Strangler."
Jefferies, whose photo resembles the sketch of the suspect, has "pretty much completely been cleared," Evers said.
But the person or people who maliciously distributed his photo and name could face charges if caught, according to police.
Guardian Angels leader Curtis Sliwa, whose unarmed volunteers are patrolling Kensington, said that four people - two men and two women - in a late-model four-door car handed one of his men 200 of the fliers that included Jefferies' photo.
He said some of his guys got into a bit of a frenzy, thinking a suspect had been named, but he knew from 32 years of experience that the flier, which among other things was missing a police logo, didn't look legitimate.
"They had a lot of our guys fooled. I had to gather them [fliers] out of their hands," he said.
Sliwa said someone in the neighborhood had gone to the trouble of posting the flier next to sketches of the Kensington Strangler under the El. He and his men tore the fliers down yesterday.
Sliwa said he has never seen anyone go to such great lengths, apparently, to seek revenge.
"I've heard rumors and innuendos, but I have never seen such a sophisticated attempt to pin it on anybody," he said.
Jefferies is lucky to have escaped injury, Sliwa said.
"I'm surprised they weren't storming the Bastille of this guy's house," he said.
Not only was the flier distributed and posted throughout Kensington, but it was also posted on the Facebook fan page "Catch the Kensington Strangler, before he catches someone you love." Authorities believe the strangler could be linked to as many as three deaths and three assaults.
By early afternoon yesterday, police had posted a public request on the page to remove Jefferies' photo and make it clear that he was not a suspect.
One fan of the page wrote that she was sent Jefferies' picture in a text message.
The Facebook page administrator, who claimed he didn't know who posted the picture on his page, wrote, "This man [Jefferies] just became another VICTIM of the Kensington strangler. Anybody can put a picture up of anyone and cause a life of pain and ruin to that person."