Janesville dentist being confused for killer of Cecil the lion
JANESVILLE (WKOW) -- Dentist Mathew Palmer went home from a normal day of exams and fillings last Tuesday not knowing he would literally be in for a rude awakening around 1:00 a.m. Wednesday.
"By the time I did wake up there were four messages on my phone from a gentleman in Davenport, Iowa and this guy said some pretty inappropriate things and yelled at me and said that he was Cecil the lion's spokesperson," said Palmer.
Palmer hadn't even seen the story yet about Minnesota-based dentist Walter Palmer, who was already under intense scrutiny for killing Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe.
"I knew about it," said Jill Palmer, Mathew's wife. "I had read the article, so when we finally got calls from people saying we were Cecil's killers or calling to say they were Cecil's defenders - I actually started laughing. It's three o'clock at night and I'm laughing in bed."
Wednesday went by without incident and Mathew thought the calls were were simply a fluke. They were not.
"Same thing started happening the next night, but not just Davenport, Iowa, but from all over the country," said Palmer. "From Illinois, from Florida, from Alabama, from Texas. I was getting phone calls in the middle of the night just harassing."
Palmer makes his cell number public so patients can use it for after-hours emergency calls. But that's also how it got into the hands of these very angry callers, most of whom found it posted on a Facebook page.
"I had to change my cell phone. I called the police just to let them know, because some of the original messages were pretty threatening," said Palmer.
But that's as bad as it got, except for the jokes he's had to endure at home.
"We've all had probably a lot more fun at his expense," said Jill Palmer. "I think every time we go to a store and see a lion we take a picture and text it to him."
"She finds it so funny that this is happening to me," said Mathew.
In fact, Jill thinks she has the perfect couple's Halloween costume picked out for October.
"If I can get him to dress like a dentist, I think I could possibly go as a lion," said Jill.
Since changing his cell number Mathew hasn't gotten a single harassing call. But he said the angry, confused people are now calling the cell number of his dental partner, who is getting the calls while on vacation this week.