“Maybe you need to talk to your hubby a little more about this,” began the YouTube comment from approximately 2008. “[H]e is the one that told my mom she was pregnant, and he is the one [who] called the house, after it was verified by the [doctor], begging my mother to abort me!”
Though the account being used belonged to a woman named Shawna Bentz, the references to “my mom” and “begging my mother to abort me” suggest that it was actually written by her daughter, Lauren Boebert, then in her early 20s. (Though court records and social media accounts alternatingly refer to Bentz as “Shawn” and “Shawna,” we’re sticking with “Shawna” for the purposes of this article because it’s the name she uses on her active Twitter account.) The other half of the discussion has been deleted from YouTube, but the numerous comments from Bentz’s account give enough context that the topic of the conversation can come into focus. It appears that Bentz (and seemingly Boebert) were arguing with a woman named Maria Lane about whether her husband, retired wrestler “Sweet” Stan Lane, real name Wallace Stanfield Lane, was the biological father of the future congresswoman for Colorado’s third district and had fabricated a negative paternity test.
If you’re not in Colorado and have heard of Boebert, you may know her as the freshman congresswoman who’s been lumped in with Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia as the “QAnon congresswomen.” (Boebert’s mother is an open QAnon adherent; Boebert has denied being a follower but has said that she hopes the conspiracy theory is real.) Before her election, she was a minor conservative media celebrity thanks to her gun-themed restaurant, Shooters Grill, in Rifle, Colorado. As for Lane, he’s best-known (depending on where you grew up) as half of either The Fabulous Ones with Steve Keirn or The Midnight Express with Bobby Eaton. With leading-man looks and long blond hair, it wasn’t exactly a shock that his secondary nickname was “The Gangster of Love.”
As The Fabulous Ones, he and Keirn were very specifically marketed as heartthrobs, so you can only imagine what his life was like in an entertainment field where performers having sex with fans was explicitly encouraged and considered “good for business.” Still, he was infamous among his fellow wrestlers for just how much sex he was having. “One night I saw Stan opening his door carrying about 10 jumbo-size bottles of baby oil,” wrote Mick Foley in his first memoir, 1999’s Have a Nice Day. “I didn’t have to wrack my brain to figure out what was going on in Stan’s room that night.”
Though the connection between the wrestler and the congresswoman looks to have been initially mentioned by a Twitter user going by the name “Colby Giffen” in Boebert’s replies on January 23rd, it caught fire on February 10th. That’s when “panda4bernie” tweeted a thread of screenshots of and links to Bentz’s posts at Will Menaker, host of popular “dirtbag left” podcast Chapo Trap House. Reached by direct message, panda4bernie tells me that they first found out about the link from a post on the wrestling subforum of the 420chan image board.
After panda4bernie’s thread gained traction, internet sleuths went looking for more, finding further posts by searching Bentz’s past tweets and searching sketchy YouTube-rehosting sites to find her YouTube comments since Google doesn’t index them. All told, between what panda4bernie posted and what has surfaced elsewhere, Bentz’s accounts posted about Lane 13 times in a YouTube comment thread circa 2008 (historical YouTube comment timestamps only say “[X] years ago”), once on Facebook in September 2013 and twice on Twitter a few weeks later, with Boebert’s account also commenting twice on YouTube videos in that approximate late-2013 time frame.
At first, everyone just kind of laughed at the idea that “Sweet” Stan Lane fathered one of the “QAnon congresswomen,” but as the old social media posts further proliferated across the wrestling fan sphere, it developed a weird credibility. After all, Lane isn’t famous enough to be a name at the center of a conspiracy theory. But it also made a certain kind of sense, given his rep. And as luck would have it, Boebert was born December 19, 1986, in Florida, a time when Lane was based out of the Sunshine State and working full-time for Championship Wrestling from Florida, a regional company. Bentz’s hometown, Altamonte Springs, is in the Orlando metropolitan area, and Lane wrestled in Orlando four times in March 1986, the general time period in which Boebert would have been conceived.
Based on the date of birth she would later give on paternity-testing paperwork, Bentz would have been 17 years old at the time, with her 18th birthday coming on June 18, 1986. Whether or not Lane would have been committing a crime by having sex with her is unclear based on the Florida laws in effect back then. “Carnal intercourse with unmarried person under 18 years,” established in 1983’s section 794.05, made it a second-degree felony to have sex “with any unmarried person, of previous chaste character, who at the time of such intercourse is under the age of 18 years.” Further, a defense citing previous “unchaste character” would be moot “when the lack of previous chaste character in the prosecuting witness was caused solely by previous intercourse between the defendant and the prosecuting witness.” The trail doesn’t stop there, though, thanks to the various lawsuits Bentz filed against Lane.
(Sal Corrente, Lane’s representative to the wrestling world, declined comment on anything related to Lauren Boebert, while an email sent to Lane’s wife was left unanswered. Likewise, Boebert’s press secretary, Jake Settle, didn’t respond to emails requesting comment for this story.)
According to Lane’s answer to the paternity suits, dated April 11, 1990, Lane didn’t dispute the claim by Bentz (then Shawn Roberts) that they had sex on March 9, 1986, a night that he was wrestling in Orlando. However, he “denies being the natural father of the minor child, Lauren Opal Roberts.” Per a sworn “paternity affidavit” that Bentz signed on August 24, 1987, Lane’s response upon learning that she was pregnant was that she should get an abortion, just as that 2008(-ish) YouTube comment would later allege. Though Bentz filed at least four different paternity lawsuits against Lane at home in Seminole County, it took until the spring of 1990 for her to finally be able to serve him in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, where he had lived since the spring of 1987.
“He didn’t go to Florida for a while, but then [the process server] came to Charlotte,” recalled Lane’s longtime friend, on-screen manager and road-trip companion Jim Cornette on one of his podcasts in February 2020. “Stan was fully dressed in the fuckin’ shower of the new Charlotte Coliseum when the guy peaked in and said, ‘You must be Stan Lane!’ He acted like he was trying to fuckin’, you know, repair the shower nozzle or something.” Cornette then doubled back to give further background details. “He did have a paternity suit issue in Florida,” Cornette explained. “There was one swing down there in, I think, 1990 for WCW where Buddy Landel substituted three nights for Stan when he couldn’t particularly go to Florida.” (Cornette’s close: It was two shows with Landel in July 1990; Jacko Victory subbed for Lane a few months earlier in Ocala, and Tommy Rich had replaced him on three occasions in July 1989. Lane would return to Florida in October 1990, just a few weeks before he and Cornette would quit WCW.)
Cornette remembered the attempt to serve Lane with the paternity suit occurring at the first wrestling card at the modern version of the Charlotte Coliseum, which took place on August 27, 1988, and that piece of information helps confirm that this was the Boebert case. A Mecklenburg County summons for the paternity case from August 15th expressly instructs whoever was to serve Lane to “please attempt service on August 27th after 8 p.m.,” and lists the Coliseum as the wrestler’s “care of” address. Cornette’s comments, which also noted fellow wrestlers trying to help with “I think he went that way!”-style diversions, suggest that Lane wasn’t actually served that night, and the court records confirm this. “The summons has not been returned as of this date,” reads a “letter of notification” from the Mecklenburg County Court dated September 9th. “The Sheriff is still attempting to serve the defendant.”
In fact, despite Lane living in the area, nobody managed to serve him until April 1990, according to a letter of notification filed on April 6th. The newer summons, dated March 8th, contained similar instructions to the one from 1988: “Please serve at the Coliseum on 4/1/90,” the note begins. “Will be wrestling with tag team ‘Midnight Express.’ Start time 7 p.m. Picture attached.” Indeed, Lane and Eaton wrestled in Charlotte that night, losing to Brian Pillman and Tom Zenk. About five weeks later, on May 7th, Judge Robert P. Johnston issued an order to compel a paternity test. It would take until July for the blood to be drawn, with Bentz and Boebert going to what looks to be a publicly run Florida lab on July 18th and Lane going to Genetic Design in Charlotte on July 25th.
Curiously, Lane’s testing paperwork, signed by phlebotomist Karen Weary as a witness, is missing both his thumbprint and a photo indicating that he really took the test. (Bentz’s Florida paperwork, signed by a woman named Mary P. Henry as witness, asked for only a thumbprint, which Bentz provided.) Even though Lane had already been served and Bentz and Boebert had completed their blood tests, he still skipped shows in Florida on July 21st and 22nd, where he was replaced by Buddy Landel.
The paternity test results came in on August 29, 1990, and unfortunately for Bentz and Boebert, they ruled Lane out as the father. “Wallace Stan Lane, the alleged father, lacks the genetic markers, Kidd a and HLA A44, which are present in the child, Lauren O. Roberts, and are absent in the mother,” reads the conclusion of the report. “Therefore, the alleged father cannot be the biological father of the child.”
That was pretty much the last word — until Boebert was 21 and the YouTube comment war started. In the interim, we have to rely on a letter that Bentz sent the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (or SBI) on October 24, 2012, for details. “When I received the Paternity Evaluation Report in 1990 that excluded Stan as Lauren’s father, I knew there was either a mistake made in the testing or that fraud was involved,” Bentz wrote. “My instinct was that Stan’s attorney had just taken care of everything for him. But I knew that despite the injustice to our daughter, Lauren, my youth and limited financial resources were no match to [sic] Stan’s celebrity status and monetary assets.”
As Bentz wrote, she soon noticed a red flag that would eventually become more relevant. “I did note that there was no Polaroid photo of Stan in the information and did ask my FL caseworker to request it,” she continued. “About a month later, I recall receiving a small cut-out photo of Stan (not a Polaroid) that looked like he was ‘posing.’ I also noted that he was wearing sweats in that photo even though his blood was drawn in the heat of the summer. Not long after receiving that photo, a friend and I were in a local drugstore and looking through some wrestling magazines, and we did see that same photo of Stan except the magazine photo had him sitting next to another wrestler.”
The photo that she claims to have received in 1990 is attached to Bentz’s copy of Lane’s side of the testing records. As indicated above, Bentz expressed skepticism in her 2012 letter over the photograph not being from a Polaroid instant camera (like the picture of her and Boebert), and though a badly Xeroxed copy is all we have, it’s not unreasonable to suggest that it looks conspicuously incongruous with the claim that it was Lane’s blood test photo. But with little more than the claim of having seen the magazine — if Bentz bought it, it doesn’t seem like she kept it — there wasn’t really anything that she could do to refute the negative paternity test. “I remember thinking to myself that ‘he got away with it,’ and I just tucked away all those paternity documents,” she added in the 2012 letter. She and Boebert would move to Colorado less than a year later, in August 1991, and Bentz eventually got married. She has four sons with her husband.
According to Bentz’s 2012 letter to the SBI, when Boebert was 13 years old, she obtained the phone number for and then called Jean Lane, Stan’s mother. Jean allegedly promised to share Boebert’s number with Stan, who called back a month later, according to the same letter. “I did talk to him and had Lauren listen in on another line,” Bentz wrote in 2012. “During that phone conversation, he kept saying he ‘knew in his heart’ that Lauren wasn’t his daughter. He never once mentioned the 1990 ‘blood test.’” Boebert apparently jumped in to stress that she wanted a relationship, not money, with Lane responding that he’d have to ask his lawyer, at least per Bentz’s account. Either way, she alleges that he never called back.
After moving to a new home in Rifle, Colorado, Bentz found and reviewed the paternity case records, consulting an attorney about the “irregularities” but neglecting to pursue a lawsuit due to the cost, she wrote. Coincidentally, later in 2001 (per Bentz’s account), Cindi Straughn, Lane’s cousin, reached out to Boebert. The date appears to be in error, as Bentz claims that Straughn reached out after discovering a YouTube-comment-thread argument between Bentz, Boebert and Stan’s wife, Maria — but again, that took place around late 2008. (Bentz’s attached copy/paste of two comments seemingly confirms this, as the attachment to the 2012 document has the date stamp as “4 years ago.”)
Though all of Maria’s contributions to the YouTube discussion appear to have been deleted at some point before September 2012, it does read, contextually speaking, as if Bentz’s account was indeed arguing with Maria Lane. Case in point, a comment from Boebert’s separate account, which is no longer on YouTube but is included in the copy/paste, appears to help bolster that claim. The timestamp that Bentz pasted reads as “Boebert in reply to alohamaria66,” and all of the substantive Google results for the latter username all point to a woman in North Carolina who is almost surely Maria Lane. Google hits for her username yield her TripAdvisor profile, which features a photo of Maria and Stan Lane, as well as a series of posts from 2011 on the Collegiate Sports Nation forum that were devoted to alohamaria66 debunking a rumor that Lane had died. (An obituary, placed in the Memphis Commercial Appeal, announced that a man named Samuel Ticer had died, and that he had wrestled as Stan Lane. It would turn out that he had told his wife for decades that he was Stan Lane, and she wasn’t enough of a wrestling fan to have any idea that he was lying.)
As for the Bentz account’s side of the YouTube back-and-forth, the earliest comment available (once more, seemingly more likely written by Boebert than Bentz) begins with, “Hey Maria! An ‘O’ blood type (Mom) a ‘B’ blood type (Stan) makes an ‘O’ blood type (ME!) Stop living in DENILE [sic]!” The person writing in Boebert’s voice would continue to take Maria to task in the next reply, claiming that Lane had obtained a photograph of her and asked why he would do that if she wasn’t his daughter, as well as if he held onto it. “Seeing how you were not in the front or the back seat how would you know what went on?” she continued (sic throughout). “Maybe you need to talk to your hubby a little more about this. he is the one that told my mom she was pregnant, and he is the one called the house, after it was verified by the dr., begging my mother to abort me!”
A further reply claimed to quote one of Maria’s, which Bentz’s account claimed read as follows (again, sic throughout): “FYI.STAN DOES NOT HAVE B BLOOD TYPE.THIS IS SO CHILDISH.THIS IS ALSO MY LAST POST TO YOU.Stop Living In DENIAL.STAN IS A GREAT LOVING HUSBAND!” The test results, however, did say that Lane has type B blood, something that Bentz quickly pointed out. “Seems as though the [ste]roids have gotten into your brain!” she exclaimed, adding that “this is what Lauren has been trying to tell you all along.”
That comment thread seems to be the last trace of any development until the unknown date Straughn apparently reached out, which appears to have been between fall 2008 and fall 2012. Bentz claimed in her 2012 letter to have found out from Straughn about a criminal case in North Carolina that further solidified her belief that Lane was the father. According to publicly available newspaper articles and court records, in September 1990, just a couple months after the Lane paternity test, a prospective father in a different case, Larry Melton, showed up at Genetic Design’s Mecklenburg County facility for a paternity test, just as Lane had in July. There, he received an offer to falsify the results as negative for $500. He accepted and signed the forms, with the phlebotomist — Karen Weary, the same phlebotomist who claimed to have drawn Lane’s blood in July 1990 — then flagging down an alternate blood donor on the street.
The scam was discovered because Weary bragged about it to her husband, only for him to turn her in when they split up in 1993. He went to law enforcement, Melton immediately fessed up and a re-test showed that he was indeed the father of the child at issue in his paternity case. Weary’s fate was inevitable at that point: She was convicted and sentenced to a six-month term in jail.
Suddenly, Bentz had a much better idea of what she thought had happened, especially since the Melton case was prosecuted only because Weary’s ex remembered the name and law enforcement believed there were likely many more victims in Mecklenburg County. In addition, a polygraph examination of Weary taken in June 1995 — found in the surviving court records from her prosecution — registered her “no” responses to questions asking if she falsified other tests as “deceptive.” (That said, polygraphs are notoriously unreliable.) “I don’t know when I’ve had something that’s made me as angry,” Mecklenburg County District Attorney told the Charlotte Observer in 1995. “We don’t know what’s out there.”
Weary would pass away at the age of 55 in 2012, less than one month before Bentz wrote to the SBI. Bentz’s SBI letter includes, in an attached evidence packet, a letter, dated a week earlier than Bentz’s, which was purportedly sent from Straughn to Stan Lane. (Straughn did not respond to an email asking if the letter and/or Bentz’s claims about her were true, nor a voicemail message requesting an interview for this story.) “Long story short, I am writing to you about Lauren,” the letter reads. “I’m sure you’re wondering why I am involved in it. You’re not the only one who has wondered that[,] as I surely would never have expected to have become an intermediary in this issue. But suffice to say that circumstances and events unfolded, and I did not refuse to follow the promptings that have now led to me writing you regarding this paternity issue. And yes, I do believe that Lauren is your daughter[,] and thus I am ‘standing in the gap’ for her at this time, praying for a bridge of reconciliation between you two. She and her mother have been praying for this for many years[,] too. Of course I know nothing for a certainty, but I have evaluated all the available evidence[,] which leads me to that belief. And when I look at a photo like the one I’ve enclosed taken last week of Lauren (and her husband and baby Roman), I see Jean [Lane’s mother] and you.”
Videos of Boebert from a few years later, when she was doing publicity for her restaurant and happened to have blond hair, arguably show that resemblance more strongly than current images of her as a brunette. Bentz swore to noticing such a resemblance on the second page of her paternity affidavit from August 24, 1987, citing similarities in the “eyes, nose [and] jaws”) of the wrestler and her then-9-month-old daughter.
If the SBI did anything to look into the substance of Bentz’s letter and supporting documents, there’s no evidence of it in court records or her subsequent social media posts. A public information officer for the SBI tells me that old investigative records are — unlike those in many other states, such as Florida — not considered public record under North Carolina law and thus not subject to public record requests.
On September 4, 2013, Bentz wrote a cover letter for the SBI letter and evidence packet, forwarding it to the Seminole County Court to file in her old case. Nothing else new was filed in that case after that point, but weeks later, Bentz and Boebert got back to posting about Lane on social media after a several-year break. “Did thou knewest?” Bentz tweeted on October 13th, tagging the account for a now-defunct wrestling blog. “Sweet Stan paid big money to deny his child in 1990, and his first cousin just did a DNA [test] with this girl and they show as related! Stan [L]ane is in big trouble[;] he thought it had disappeared but no way!!! Look for this in the news[.]”
Four days later, her account posted on the Facebook wall of WrestleReunion, a fan convention run by the aforementioned Sal Corrente, a friend of Lane’s who keeps him up-to-date with wrestling news and serves as his conduit for wrestling-related business. This time, though, the post doesn’t appear to be written by Bentz or Boebert. Instead, it was written in the voice of Lane’s cousin, presumably Cindi Straughn, which would go on to confuse many observers in 2021 into thinking that the claim was that Boebert was the product of incest between first cousins. (It isn’t, and she’s not.)
“Will Stan Lane be there?” asked the curiously framed post. “Perhaps he can introduce his [26-year-old] daughter, Lauren Roberts Boebert — who he has refused to acknowledge all these years! She looks so much like his mom (who just turned 93 and sadly has never met her granddaughter and 4 g[reat]-grandchildren). [By the way], I’m Stan’s maternal first cousin. There might have been a 1990 paternity fraud, but 2013 autosomal DNA is awesome! Google Lauren Boebert or email me for photos and supporting documentation — and her contact info or her mother’s contact info.”
When taken together with the tweets, the suggestion from the multiple voices on Bentz’s accounts appears to be this: In the several weeks between Bentz’s writing to Seminole County Court and this series of posts, Boebert and Straughn got a kinship analysis or similar DNA test that showed they were related by blood. In the same general time frame, a “Lauren Boebert” account commented on two videos from Lane’s post-wrestling career as an offshore boat-racing announcer, imploring “The Gangster of Love” to Google the name “Karen Weary.” (At least in 2021, this doesn’t immediately yield anything in the way of relevant results or articles about Weary’s prosecution if you don’t add additional keywords, but that may not have been the case in 2013.)
That’s when the digital trail goes cold. Since becoming a public figure, Boebert has told reporters that her parents divorced when she still lived in Altamonte Springs. “While Boebert often talks about her mother, calling her a strong woman who never had an opportunity to realize her full potential, she won’t talk about her father, whom her mother divorced when the family still lived in Altamonte Springs, Florida,” reads a September 2020 article by Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reporter Charles Ashby. (Ashby confirmed by email that this was something that Boebert told him, though he wasn’t sure where he had originally heard that story about her father.)
However, there was no father listed in either Boebert’s Orlando Sentinel birth announcement or her birth certificate, and no record exists for such a divorce in Seminole County Court’s online system, which goes back well into the 1980s and shows no hits for divorce cases involving “Shawn Roberts.” (There were also no hits for “Shawn Bentz” or “Shawna Bentz,” as well as no relevant hits for “Shawna Roberts.”) A September 2020 Colorado Sun article by Nancy Lofholm, meanwhile, says that “Boebert has glossed over any mention of a father.” (Though the next line of the article notes that various police reports showed Boebert’s birthdate as being either December 15, 1986, or December 19, 1986, her birth certificate, other paternity lawsuit documentation and her newspaper birth announcement all have the latter date.)
Other than those two articles, there’s next to nothing about Boebert’s father in news reports from before the Lane posts resurfaced. He has been, as always, missing. “I’m a mother myself,” explained Mecklenburg County Assistant District Attorney Jeannie Brown to the Raleigh News & Observer in 1995 for an article about the Karen Weary case. “I want to do everything I can to make sure that no other mothers are suffering because of this woman.” Yet for more than a quarter-century after Weary went to prison, no other cases or even potential cases of her malfeasance surfaced — until now. Regardless of what Stan Lane did or didn’t do in July 1990, it’s hard to blame Shawna Bentz and Lauren Boebert for seeing a conspiracy there. Unfortunately, they started seeing them everywhere else, too.