Let's go behind the scenes of one of our most notable stories from 2013. Here's how "Manti Te'o's Dead Girlfriend, The Most Heartbreaking And Inspirational Story Of The College Football Season, Is A Hoax" came to be.

The original tip:

I know you guys get thousands of tips that are "out there" or crazy. This is one that should really be looked into. I was born and raised a Laie Boy on the North Shore of Oahu. While Manti Teo is a loved native son here in Hawaii he is also a fraud. The story about his girlfriend dying is completely made up. It is a case of the media simply being too sensitive and shocked to actually look into it.

The story floating around the island is this: Manti was dupped by a man online pretending to be this girl, Lennay Kekua. Once Manti found out he had been tricked he made up the story that she died in order to ensure that no one asked questions and he never looked foolish. The story of how they met is basically that when ND was playing Stanford he looked up into the stands and they locked eyes but that was it. When he got back to South Bend she friend requested him on Facebook. From there they had a year long relationship. Look at how fishy the stories are online. Some claim they never met. In addition, there are only three pictures of this girl online. She no longer has a Facebook profile or anything. The pictures don't even look like they are all the same people.

She has no obituary posted ANYWHERE. There are no details about a funeral service posted ANYWHERE. A girl named Lennay Kekua may have died somewhere but it was not Manti Teo's girlfriend. This kid has lied and cheated so many people and someone needs to blow the whistle. The fact that this story has made it this far without being looked into his insane. I'm not a reporter, but I bet if you checked records at Stanford or newspapers in her supposed (never mentioned in any of the stories) hometown you won't find her anywhere. She is a ghost. Please use the actual reporting skills you have to find the truth.

Much Aloha

Chat transcript, Jan. 11:

Jack Dickey:
That Teo tip is fascinating, anyone got dibs?

Tom Ley:
That is fascinating

Jack Dickey:
OK, I'll poke around.

Tim Burke:
oh this should be pretty easy to solve actually

Chat transcript, Jan. 11:

Jack Dickey:
Talk to me, Burke.

Tim Burke:
1. Find all images purportedly of his girlfriend.

There was a long feature about him and her and his grandmother before. USC? before one of the games. Should be able to find that package.

Anyway, then do the various image searches to see where the pictures came from. If they're a real person, that person is still around somewhere.

Dickey:
You wanna take a look at it and see if the photos of her in that package are the same three all over the internet?

Burke:
well
I'm working her twitter profile atm

[...]

Dickey:
tom and i called stanford
and they won't release any information without consent
which at first i thought meant she was a student
but then tom called looking for information on (the obviously fake) "alfonzo craggs" and he got the same spiel

Burke:
ok

Chat transcript, Jan. 13:

Tommy Craggs:
oh man
i have such a hard-on
fucking thamel
god this would be so delightful

Dickey:
it would be the perfect deadspin story
thamel's stories are the only ones with the details you'd expect
but nothing exists to corroborate any of those details

Craggs:
i want this story
i want it i want it i want it

Chat transcript, Jan. 14:

Tim Burke:
status update: At noon, calling LA County health dept to confirm no Lennay Kekua died on Sept 11 or Sept 12 and CHP to confirm no accident occurred. I know these things already, but we need to be able to say we confirmed them. Have messaged a person who appears in the picture with the Diane person for a way to get in contact with her to confirm she's the one in the pictures (which, I'm pretty sure now, are not all of the same person.) Diane has not replied to me on Facebook and I've not heard a reply from the original source about the identity of the person behind Lennay Kekua

Jack Dickey:
ok
i'm not sure they'll tell you over the phone
but it's worth a shot

Burke:
yeah

Dickey:
I think the original source must be someone with a fake name.
perhaps a media person
because he didn't answer my email either

Burke:
oh i don't mean the tipster

Dickey:
oh

Burke:
sorry i think i left a huge part of this story out
i made contact with a person who knows the person pretending to be "Lennay Kekua"
they gave me most of the story

Dickey:
!
how'd you manage that

Burke:
sleuthing

Chat transcript, Jan. 14:

Jack Dickey:
Who is ronaiah

Tim Burke:
no idea

Dickey:
@iworship appears to be gone

Burke:
if this is a young guy who is affiliated in some way with a church
that aligns with this
"My fam & I have an idea who the guy is behind the @LennayKay profile & hes up there leading a worship band at his dad's church! SMFH"

Dickey:
ah haa

Burke:
It's this guy twitter.com/ronaiahhh

Dickey:
maybe this is why he deleted his twitter
that's a real name, probably

Burke:
www.myspace.com/ronaiah

Dickey:
does this involve MARQUES TUIASOSOPO?!?!?!?
marques is his cousin

Burke:
ARE YOU SERIOUS

[...]

Burke:
oh hey
guess where he lives
Carson, CA

Dickey:
oh man

Burke:
same place Lennay did, or at least where her funeral was.

Chat transcript, Jan. 14:

Jack Dickey:
don't know if burke's told you
but this may go all the way to marques tuiasosopo

Tommy Craggs:
as with all things
how so?

Dickey:
someone on twitter accused a cousin of his of making up the kekua profile
talking to a producer of a catfish documentary on mtv

Craggs:
yeah, burke mentioned that
i didn't realize it was a cousin

Dickey:
yep

Craggs:
fucking shit

Dickey:
it's ronaiah tuiasosopo
he's lennay
burke talked to the girl who's in the photos; she knows him

Craggs:
asdfadsfasdfasdfasdfasdf