ORLANDO, Fla. — Investigators say it does not appear that any laws were broken by a woman who fraudulently claimed to be the cousin of Orlando FreeFall victim Tyre Sampson in interviews after his death.
The woman — identified as Shay Johnson at the time, and Lewishena Browning after the fact — does not have any connection to Sampson or his family, officials said.
So who is the woman now identified as Lewishena Browning?
Last Monday at a vigil for Tyre Sampson, Browning, who claimed to be the teen's cousin Shay Johnson, said she spoke to him the afternoon he died.
“He said he wanted to ride the swing on International,” Browning, identified at the time as Shay Johnson, said on March 28. “I said, 'OK, ride it twice, and ride it for me, too.'”
She also claimed to have given him money for the rides that day.
“So I went back to my job, and I got him some money and I brought him back out,” Browning said at the vigil, referring to an alleged conversation she had with Sampson on March 24, the day that he died.
Following her alleged attempt to trick people in to thinking Tyre Sampson was her cousin, her now-former employer says he wants nothing to do with her.
Her former boss at Flash Dancers Orlando said that there was no way she gave Sampson money for the rides at ICON Park, because she was at work from 6:30 p.m. until 2 a.m., and never left.
Willie Sierer, the owner of adult entertainment club Flash Dancers Orlando, said that not only did Browning — also known as “Shay Johnson” and “Candy Red” — never leave work Thursday, she also came in to work Friday and Saturday without saying a word about her cousin dying.
“We were as surprised as anyone else,” Sierer said. “Again, her working Thursday and Friday, then Saturday we see it on the news, we knew immediately it was fraudulent."
"For her to go on national TV and claim that she’s related to someone just to better herself, it just crossed the line, and I felt really horrible for the family,” he added
On Saturday, April 2, Flash Dancers Orlando terminated Browning's employment.
“After speaking to several of the employees that worked with her, they were very uncomfortable with her actions,” Sierer said. “I had no other alternative but to sever our relationship.”
Club General Manager Paul Pizal said after working with Browning for five years, what she is accused of doing is tough to understand.
“I am just at a lost for words,” he said. “It’s just like wow, perplexed, really in an awe, like, a human being can do something like that.”
According to seven dancers at the club, Browning never told any of them that Tyre Sampson was her cousin, or that she was raising money for his family after his death. They said she kept coming to work as usual.
According to deputies, Sampson’s mother told the Orange County Sheriff’s Office that she does not know who Browning is, and has never heard of Shay Johnson.
Sierer said that Browning contacted one of his shirt printers about making 1,500 T-shirts with Sampson’s photo, which she reportedly planned to sell for $25 each.
Officials with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said they looked into Browning, but so far have not found any evidence that she broke the law.