Mom Who Wrote Essay Responds to Accusations of Fraud

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A North Texas girl's essay about her father's death in Iraq won a national contest and its coveted prize--- four tickets and airfare A North Texas girl's essay about her father's death in Iraq won a national contest and its coveted prize--- four tickets and airfare to a Hannah Montana concert. But the essay turned out to be fiction, and now a 6-year-old and her mom are in the middle of a swirl of controversy.

Priscilla Ceballos, the girl's mother, telephoned FOX 4 reporter Brandon Todd Friday night to clear up what she said were misconceptions about their side of the story. She claims they never represented the essay as truth, and claims she stormed out of a media photo opportunity in Garland on Friday only because a reporter "accused" her of lying.

The child's winning essay read: "My daddy died this year in Iraq. I am going to give my mommy the Angel pendant that daddy put on mommy when she was having me. I had in in my jewelry box since that day. I love my mommy."

The girl's grandmother told FOX 4 that the father, Jonathan Menjivar, is alive and currently lives in another town. The Department of Defense website has no record of any military casualty by that name, nor does the U.S. Army have any record at all of that name.

Ceballos says her daughter knows the submission was a work of fiction. "She's aware of what she wrote, and she knows that that wasn't true," Ceballos said.

The contest was organized by Club Libby Lu, a girls' spa/retail franchise chain. On Friday, the store at Firewheel Town Center in Garland treated the chosen winner to a makeover and Hannah Montana merchandise. But it's not clear what will happen now, or if the 6-year-old will be allowed to keep the tickets.

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