"The News Sentinel can not establish that Schmitt-Matzen's account is inaccurate", they said, "but more importantly, ongoing reporting can not establish that it is accurate".
In a story December 12, The Associated Press published a story, relying on information from the Knoxville News-Sentinel, about a man portraying Santa Claus who says a terminally ill boy died in his arms. But no one from the boy's family or a hospital has been found who can corroborate Schmitt-Matzen's story. She also said she hoped that at least the nurse would come forward to verify Schmitt-Matzen's account.
This doesn't mean that Schmitt-Matzen was lying, of course.
I carried a pad of paper with me everywhere, scrawling out requests and answers and the occasional wry comment until one day a week before Christmas my nearly eight-year-old son came home with the worst playground news ever and the innocence-busting moment parents dread: Is there a Santa?
The News Sentinel emphasized that it can not say the story is false, but that it can not stand by the veracity of the story given its inability to confirm that it is true.
He retold some of the so-called Christmas miracle, saying he received a frantic call from a nurse in the area that he knows from his usual Santa circuit.
Allegedly recalling the tragic moment, Eric told the newspaper: "When I walked in, he was laying there, so weak it looked like he was ready to fall asleep".
"I think we're losing track of what the story is about", he said. He was more upset about missing Christmas than he was about dying. "Why, you're my Number One elf!"
Tonya Stoutt-Brown, spokesperson for Covenant Health, another East Tennessee hospital operator, told Patch she could not confirm if the incident happened at a Covenant hospital.
Joe Johnson, a diabetic, died of congestive heart failure and pneumonia on Memorial Day in 2014, just days after he won a contest for the "Best-Groomed" beard, she said.
His wife told the news station that the boy died some time in mid-October. Before I could say anything, he died right there. I let him stay, just kept hugging and holding on to him.
Or maybe Schmitt-Matzen simply wanted to make people feel good during troubled times.
"Since publication, the News Sentinel has done additional investigation in an attempt to independently verify Schmitt-Matzen's account", it read. "Although facts about his background have checked out, his story of bringing a gift to a dying child remains unverified", the note says. "... The News Sentinel can not establish that Schmitt-Matzen's account is inaccurate, but more importantly, ongoing reporting can not establish that it is accurate".