Australian grandmother did not shoot two rapists

31 May 2022
What was claimed

An 81-year-old grandmother in Australia tracked down and shot off the testicles of two men who raped her granddaughter

Our verdict

The story is false and first appeared in a newspaper that carries fictional news reports

A Facebook post claiming an Australian grandmother shot off the testicles of two men who had raped her granddaughter is false. 

The post relates the tale of 81-year-old Ava Estelle, a former librarian, who, after two men raped her 18-year-old granddaughter, tracked them down to a hotel room and shot each of them in the testicles with a 9mm pistol. 

The post claims the events took place in the city of Melbourne and quotes a police investigator, Evan Delp, as saying: "The old lady spent a week hunting those men down and, when she found them, she took revenge on them in her own special way."

Other posts on Facebook carry an abridged version of the same story, albeit with a different picture. 

The story first appeared in the 20 October 1998 printed edition of World Weekly News, which, despite claims to provide the “highest quality investigative journalism on the planet”, has been described by the Washington Post as “America’s foremost journalism of surrealism and social satire”. 

Other stories from the publication, which has been an online-only publication since 2009, have included a fire breaking out on the moon, Albert Einstein being unveiled as a rap artist and the rock band The Ramones releasing an album of new music from its original lineup despite all four members being dead. 

The story about Ava Estelle has been masquerading as a genuine piece of reporting since at least 2000 when it was covered by the fact-checking website Snopes

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as false because the story originated from a newspaper known to carry fictional news stories.

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