The woman seen on a viral video licking ice cream was identified as a girl from San Antonio, police said on July 5.
The “Blue Bell licker” was identified as a juvenile, the Lufkin Police & Fire said in a statement. Police did not say her exact age but said she is 16 years old or younger.
“The suspect is tied to the Lufkin area through her boyfriend’s family. We have spoken with her boyfriend, who is an adult, as well. They were both forthcoming with what occurred and admitted to the act,” police said.
However, a twist in the case threw detectives, making the case more difficult, police said.
— New York Post (@nypost) July 5, 2019
“A ‘catfish’ with a similar screen name (within one letter of the suspect’s screen name) began taking credit for it. It was actually the catfish and NOT our suspect who bragged on Instagram about the incident saying: ‘Yeah, I really did that. You can call it Flu Bell ice cream now ‘cause I was a lil sick last week. Repost yourself doing this. Let’s see if we can start an epidemic (literally),'” the Lufkin Police & Fire said.
There were at least four females with similar screen names and appearances to the teen who actually licked the ice cream, forcing detectives to eliminate each suspect before getting to the actual one.
Because she’s a minor, the suspect will not be identified or charged as an adult, police said. The case will be handled by the Texas Juvenile Justice Department.
“We do not intend to pursue charges against her as an ‘adult’ and therefore what happens from here is at the discretion of the juvenile justice system. We cannot speak for them as to what charge she will face in the juvenile justice system. As to whether her boyfriend will face charges, we are currently discussing his involvement with prosecutors,” the statement read.
After the video footage emerged showing the girl opening the top of a Blue Bell ice cream container, licking it, and putting it back, police worked on identifying the culprit.
Police said they initially believed the store was in San Antonio before finding clues that it was in Houston, Finally, they identified the store as a Walmart in Lufkin. After the store was identified, all half-gallons of Tin Roof was removed from the store.
On July 4, officials said they thought they identified the suspect before saying they had confirmed her identity in the Friday statement.
Authorities had said on Wednesday that detectives were working to confirm the identity of both the female and her male companion, asking anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers.
If the girl had been charged as an adult, she could have faced up to 20 years in prison. It’s not clear what punishment she’ll face in juvenile court.
Police said food tampering was a serious crime and a health expert said that licking ice cream and putting it back could lead to someone getting a cold, strep throat, or mono.
“If it’s shared, especially in a person whose immune system may not be as strong, there’s a potential risk that the other person could get very sick,” Dr. Christine Le of Kelsey-Seybold Clinic told KTRK.
She also said that eating from the same bowl as someone else, using chips and salsa as an example, should also be avoided.