HOUSTON -- His teenaged wife’s missing person case took on a life on its own online.
Now a Houston man is speaking publicly for the first time about the strange chain of events that’s landed him back in the headlines.
“It’s the strangest thing to me,” said Michael Sewell. “It really is.”
It all began a couple of weeks ago, when Sewell says his 18-year-old estranged wife, Hailey Cokins, traveled to New Orleans with two other people.
By Saturday, Sewell said Cokins was alone, broke and didn’t have her phone or identification.
Although separated, he said he’s remained close to his wife, so he wasn’t surprised when she turned to him for help.
“She told me she had been abandoned on Bourbon Street and that she didn't know anybody,” Sewell said. “She was very scared and she just wanted to come home.”
He said he arranged to get Cokins back to Houston.
What he didn’t know was as she was on her way home, someone reported Cokins missing to New Orleans Police.
As officers searched, the story spread.
“An 18-year-old girl becoming missing on Bourbon Street, yeah I guess that is a story,” Sewell said. “You'd want to find that person, but she was never missing.”
New Orleans police only said that one of Cokins friends filed the report.
When the couple realized what happened, Sewell said he and his wife tried explaining to police by phone that she was okay.
“They asked if she was with me, and if she was safe,” Sewell said. “I said yes and I handed her the phone and she confirmed everything.”
But the investigation continued.
A posting on Cokins Facebook page insisted the report was false and that the 18-year-old was okay.
As police maintained the case was still an open investigation, word of the missing teen continued spreading.
The 33-year-old Sewell, who made headlines last year after he was charged with posting a sex tape online featuring an ex-girlfriend, found himself back in the news.
Houston.Culturemap.com labeled Sewell as Cokins’ “Secret 33-year-old husband.”
Finally, on Tuesday, New Orleans Police closed Cokins case saying they were convinced she was safe and living with Sewell.
We tried talking with Cokins for this story, but Sewell said she was spending the day shopping and that she was sick of all the attention her non-disappearance received.