The unmarried mother's story about giving birth to a child diagnosed as terminally ill in the womb hit a major nerve on the Internet.
Every night for the last two months, thousands of abortion opponents across the nation logged on to a blog run by the suburban Chicago woman who identified herself only as "B" or "April's Mom."
People said they prayed that God would save her pregnancy. They e-mailed her photos of their children dressed in pink, bought campaign T-shirts, shared tales of personal heartache and redemption, and sent letters and gifts to an Oak Lawn
P.O. box in support.
As more and more people were drawn to her compelling tale, eager advertisers were lining up. And established parenting Web sites that oppose abortion were promoting her blog -- which included biblical quotes, anti-abortion messages and a soundtrack of inspirational Christian pop songs.
By Sunday night, when "April's Mom" claimed to have given birth to her "miracle baby" -- blogging that April Rose had survived a home birth only to die hours later -- her Web site had nearly a million hits.
There was only one problem with the unfolding tragedy: None of it was true.
Not the pregnancy, and not the photos posted on the blog of the supposed mother and Baby April Rose, swaddled in white blankets. The baby was actually a lifelike doll, which immediately raised the suspicion of loyal blog-followers.
"I have that exact doll in my house," said Elizabeth Russell, a dollmaker from Buffalo who had been following the blog. "As soon as I saw that picture, I knew it was a scam."
By Monday, outraged followers on dozens of Christian parenting Web sites unmasked "April's Mom" as a hoaxer, and hundreds more vented their anger.
"She needs to be exposed and held accountable," Russell said.
Sensing people were close to establishing her identity, "April's Mom" on Monday raced in vain to delete her Web site and Twitter
But it was too late. The online community found out her true identity: Beccah Beushausen, 26, a social worker from Mokena
When reached by the Tribune on Wednesday, Beushausen admitted the hoax.
"I know what I did was wrong," she said. "I've been getting hate mail. I'm sorry because people were so emotionally involved."
There's no evidence that Beushausen benefited financially in any significant way or committed any crime.
Still, Russell said she doesn't understand how anyone could create such a convincing tale that preyed on other women's emotions.
Beushausen said she really did lose a son shortly after birth in 2005. She started her blog in March to help deal with that loss and to express her strong anti-abortion views, she said.
She had expected only a handful of friends to read it, but when her first post got 50 comments, she was hooked.
"I've always liked writing. It was addictive to find out I had a voice that people wanted to hear," Beushausen said.
"Soon I was getting 100,000 hits a week, and it just got out of hand," she said. "I didn't know how to stop. ... One lie led to another."