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Cops use Facebook to notify mom of son's death

Rosa Golijan / NBC News

"Society has accepted social media as a major form of communication, and so have I," a statement prepared by a detective in the Clayton County Police Department reads. Word got out that his department used Facebook to notify a woman of her son's death.

The statement, provided to TODAY, explains that "several traditional attempts" were made to notify the family of 30-year-old Ricky Lamb after the man died. "We make every possible attempt to apply best practices when handling these sensitive matters," the statement from the department, near Atlanta, Ga., emphasizes. After the traditional notification attempts failed, officers took to Facebook, sending the deceased's mother a private message via the social network.

As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) reports, the mother, Anna Lamb-Creasey, did not see the heartbreaking message until almost a month later. Due to the way Facebook handles messages from individuals with whom a user isn't "friends," the correspondence was buried in a folder labeled "Other." It never appeared in Lamb-Creasey's regular inbox. Additionally, Lamb-Creasey told the AJC, the message came from an account belonging to a "Misty Hancock" which had "the profile picture of Atlanta rapper TI." Both Lamb-Creasey and her daughter assumed that the message was fake when they saw it.

But as time passed and Lamb appeared to be missing, Lamb-Creasey's daughter finally called the phone number listed on the strange Facebook profile "and an officer gave her the bad news."

TODAY has made multiple attempts to reach Lamb-Creasey for comment, but we have not heard back. She did tell the AJC that she was both furious that officers didn't manage to reach her via traditional means, and confused about the Facebook account used to contact her.

"People need to know that it's a police department trying to contact them. If you just have a picture of a rapper TI no one's gonna take that serious," Melissa Wilson, a friend of Lamb-Creasey, pointed out to the AJC.

"In an effort to prevent this from occurring again, immediate changes are being made," the Clayton County Police Department statement explains. For starters, the department will launch an official Facebook page.

"This site will serve as another format to relay current events and notifications to the community that we serve," the statement adds. "We will continue the traditional methods of personal face to face contact as we integrate this new tool of social media." Additionally, a "thorough review" of the Ricky Lamb death notification will be conducted.

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