Fact check: Video falsely claims to demonstrate lack of birth records for Uvalde victims

·6 min read

The claim: Video demonstrates there are no birth records for child Uvalde victims

A video circulating on social media purports to demonstrate there are no birth records for the 19 children who died in the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School, painting this as evidence that the shooting was supposedly staged.

The eight-minute clip begins with a slide that asks, "Uvalde School 'Massacre': Can We Find Evidence That Any of the Child 'Victims,' As Described, Were Ever Born?"

It appears to show searches on Ancestry.com and FindAGrave.com for each of the 19 youngest Uvalde victims. For all but one name, which produces a record for someone who died in 2012, the search results are empty.

"NO BIRTH RECORD For ANY of The Uvalde Massacre Child Victims," the video is captioned in a June 7 Facebook post that was shared more than 540 times in one month. The same headline introduced the clip in articles and on Bitchute.

But the video offers no evidence for these claims. The lack of a birth record on Ancestry.com and FindAGrave.com does not mean the record does not exist.

Ancestry.com does not have state-issued birth record indexes for people born in Texas after 1997, a spokesperson told USA TODAY, which means it would not have records for the 17 victims who were born there in 2011 and 2012. Florida and Illinois, where the two other children were born, have laws that prevent public disclosure of recent birth records.

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USA TODAY reached out to users who shared the claim for comment.

House SpeakerNancy Pelosi, D-Calif., stands with fellow Democrats holding photographs of the victims of the mass shootings in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas, before passing the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act in front of the House of Representatives on June 24, 2022, in Washington, D.C.
House SpeakerNancy Pelosi, D-Calif., stands with fellow Democrats holding photographs of the victims of the mass shootings in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas, before passing the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act in front of the House of Representatives on June 24, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

Websites searched don't have recent birth records

The video relies on searches of Ancestry.com and FindAGrave.com to claim there aren't official records for the victims, but neither is a comprehensive database of recent births in the U.S. It also misrepresents one victim's record to claim she died in 2012, not 2022.

Find A Grave, a subsidiary of Ancestry.com that began as a platform for people to locate celebrity graves, does not use comprehensive historical records, its website says. It wouldn't have birth records for the Uvalde victims unless their families uploaded that information to the site.

Ancestry.com, on the other hand, draws from historical records as well as user uploads, a spokesperson for the site, Gina Spatafore, told USA TODAY.

However, the site does not have state-issued, official birth records for people born in Texas after 1997, Spatafore said. This is the main reason why most of the victims don't appear in searches for official records.

"The most recent birth indexes we have from the state of Texas are from 1997, meaning those people would be around 25 years old," Spatafore wrote in an email. "Anyone younger, born in the state of Texas, would not be in the records.”

Fact check:Accounts from witnesses and authorities show Uvalde shooting was not false flag

All of the children who died were born between 2010 and 2012, and most were born in Texas, according to their obituaries.

Memorial crosses on May 31, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas, with the names of the school victims killed.
Memorial crosses on May 31, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas, with the names of the school victims killed.

Two children, Maranda Gail Mathis and Layla Salazar, were born in other states. Because of privacy laws in those states, their records also wouldn't be available online unless the victim's parents uploaded them.

Mathis was born in Florida, where birth certificates are confidential until 100 years after a person's birth, according to Section 382.025 of the state code. The official record can only be accessed by the person named on the record if they are 18 or older, their parents or guardians, or an attorney if the person is underaged.

Florida Health Department spokesperson Jeremy Redfern confirmed that this law applies to Mathis's record, writing in an email that the state could not provide information about her birth to USA TODAY.

In Illinois, where Salazar was born, privacy laws similarly prevent public access to birth records, according to the state's Division of Vital Records.

The video also misleads when it shows the Ancestry.com record for a person named "Maite V Rodriguez" who was born in 2011 and died in 2012. This record is used to claim the Maite Rodriguez listed as a school shooting victim actually passed away as an infant, but the record doesn't have the right middle name – the girl who died in Uvalde is Maite Yuleana Rodriguez.

Fact check roundup: What's true and what's false about the mass school shooting in Uvalde, Texas

USA TODAY has reported extensively on the shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 24 and debunked a number of claims about the massacre, including the false claim that it was staged.

Our rating: False

Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that a video demonstrates there are no birth records for child Uvalde victims. The video relies on searches of Ancestry.com and FindAGrave.com to make this claim, but neither is a comprehensive database of recent births. Ancestry.com does not have state-issued birth record indexes for people born in Texas after 1997, a spokesperson told USA TODAY. That  means it would not have records for the 17 victims who were born there in 2011 and 2012. Florida and Illinois, where the two other children were born, have laws that prevent public disclosure of recent birth records.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Birth records for young Uvalde victims aren't public