Trey Johnson is a cutup, quite naturally. It was pretty obvious when he showed up to a petting zoo that held a young man dressed in a turtle costume this week that the 22-year-old Cumberland farmer was in a bit of a jam: The outfit consisted of approximately 350 pieces of costume fabric, at a total cost of about $325; to take down the whole thing, he had to rip them up into 3-inch strips and staple the mixture together so they could be stitched into a turtle.
Johnson told the Washington Post on Wednesday that he bought the costumes at a local toy store earlier in the summer. But things started to get a little complicated once Petito showed up as a surprised visitor to the petting zoo.
Johnson posted images of the incident to Facebook, asking the Washington Post to confirm whether Petito, whom he claims to have known, was the one dressed in the costume. At the time of publishing, the post had more than 4,000 likes and more than 800 shares.
But it turns out that Johnson — who says Petito has been dating the young man for the past month — may not know much about the creature he was trying to muck about in.
After asking some of the commenters whether Petito was actually in the human-canine stomper — “attempting to get into the park and asking for tips about a swamp turtle. …if you think its just me just asking, i have to google this guy. …white people like him … ask if anyone knows him and if you spot him [amazed, confused or whatever] come get him,” he wrote in a Facebook comment — Johnson contacted an address for a 22-year-old named Caleb Hooper in Cumberland, Md. According to Johnson, Hooper responded via Facebook Messenger: “I am totally not in nature preserve, I’m in three store d through here but you can look for me all over marsh county.”
That answer, as Johnson learned later on Wednesday, was a bit misleading. Hooper didn’t say in the conversation that he was in the Forest National Reserve; it was in fact on an employee’s private property that the sighting came from.
Johnson later reached out to Petito, the newspaper reported, and her boyfriend replied that she was not, in fact, at the forest reserve. She was at the Banana Shack, a petting zoo that Petito has been hosting on weekends. Banana Shack owner Jeremy Brubaker told the Post that he was dumbfounded by Johnson’s claims.
“Caleb just out of the blue called me last night and said ‘They say I’m in the forest reserve,'” Brubaker told the paper. “It’s just ridiculous and strange that the person in the costume would make these statements without someone confirming with us.”
Brubaker said Johnson said he and Petito knew each other, but wouldn’t elaborate on their relationship. The man said Johnson claims to have fallen in love with Petito in Nicaragua.
“That goes without saying,” Brubaker told the Post. “If you’re really in love, you would invite him to come to your home.”
Brubaker told the paper he wasn’t joking when he said the man is a “cutup” and that “he does do anything he can to make his life entertaining.” He went on to say that he and his family had all but put out bids on Johnson’s Facebook page in the hopes of removing the post and having someone remove it.
“Hopefully we could meet the person in costume. We really would like to see what he’s hiding there,” Brubaker said.
As of Thursday evening, Johnson’s Facebook post had disappeared.