FACT CHECK: Did The U.S. Military Arrest A Vaccine Scientist On Charges Of ‘Accessory To Mass Murder?’

Christine Sellers | Fact Check Reporter

A post shared on Facebook purports the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps investigators arrested vaccine scientist Richard Tillyer on charges of “accessory to mass murder and negligent homicide.”

Verdict: False

The claim stems from a satirical website. There is no evidence supporting the purported claim.

Fact Check:

Tillyer joined Janssen in 2018 after previously working at Merck, according to his official biography on Janssen’s website. He holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of British Columbia, according to the university’s website.

The Facebook post purports U.S. Navy JAG Corps investigators allegedly arrest Tillyer on charges of “accessory to mass murder and negligent homicide.” The post further claims Tillyer, global head of Janssen Research & Development, was one of four company executives who supposedly buried side effect reports involving COVID-19 vaccine trial participants, particularly in 2020.

The claim is false. There are no credible news reports suggesting Tillyer was arrested on the purported charges. Likewise, the claim is neither mentioned on Janssen’s website nor on its verified social media accounts. In addition, Johnson & Johnson, the pharmaceutical company that owns Janssen, has not publicly commented on the purported claim.

A keyword search reveals the claim stems from a Feb. 17 article published by the website “Real Raw News.” A disclaimer included on the site’s “About Us” page indicates it contains “humor, parody, and satire.” (RELATED: Did Moderna’s CEO State The Company Manufactured 100,000 COVID-19 Vaccine Doses In 2019?)

“This is not true,” U.S. Navy JAG Corps spokesperson Devin Arneson said of the claim in an email to Check Your Fact.

This is not the first time a satirical claim has been promoted as true online. Check Your Fact previously debunked a social media post purporting U.S. Marines allegedly caught FBI agents trying to sabotage a substation in Meridian, Idaho on Super Bowl Sunday 2023.

Christine Sellers

Fact Check Reporter