It was a story many wanted to believe: A terminally ill child gets his last wish to see Santa and dies in his arms. But the Tennessee newspaper that ran it first now says it can no longer stand by the account. The Knoxville News Sentinel story quickly went viral after it was published Sunday. USA Today republished the column, which was written by News Sentinel

columnist Sam Venable. A host of national news outlets gave it additional coverage, including CNN, who spoke to Santa actor Eric Schmitt-Matzen about his interaction with the boy in his final moments. “When you get to those pearly gates, you tell ’em you’re Santa’s No. 1 elf, and I know they’ll let you in,” Schmitt-Matzen recalled telling the boy. READ MORE