HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - On the radio, morning disc jockeys and sports show hosts fielded phone calls that ran the gamut on the Manti Teo dead girlfriend hoax.
"Most of the callers have already decided one way or another," ESPN 1420's Bobby Curran said.
He said his callers were split 60-40. The majority supported Teo. The minority remained skeptical.
"Some people say, 'Absolutely not. There's no way Manti's involved.' And some others say, 'This is just a fraud. There's no way. You're telling me he didn't Skype or Facebook?'" Curran said.
Communications experts said speculation will swirl around Teo's story until he talks.
"If you tell the story from your perspective, and you're transparent, those are the two thing in crisis communication that they would tell you to do," said John Hart, chairman of Hawaii Pacific University's communications department.
He said Teo's image of being honest and straightforward plays in his favor, and he needs to play off it.
"He did a lot of good things. He was family oriented. He went to church. All those things are still there," he said.
"Just seeing and knowing that people make false stories all the time, it's hard to say," Mililani resident Dawn Dural said.
"You're shocked. Not this guy, because he seems like a good guy. And I don't know if it's true or not. I'm going to wait and hold judgement until I find out all the facts," Roynes Dural said.
Curran said Teo's troubles are bringing out the worst in some of his callers.
"We're seeing that nasty human impulse to want to pull somebody down," he said. "If you put a gun to my head, I would think he's not involved in this."
Before yesterday, Manti Teo was seen as a young man who overcame in the face of tragedy. What a difference a day makes.