One of the people who died during this week's horrific siege on the US Capitol was a conspiracy theorist trampled to death by fellow pro-Trump rioters.
Roseanne Boyland's devastated family have revealed that the 34-year-old "spiralled" into the depths of the QAnon conspiracy theory, which peddles the belief that a global gang of high-profile paedophiles wants to topple President Donald Trump.
Boyland was one of three rioters who died due to "medical emergencies". Ashli Babbitt was shot dead when she stormed the Capitol building, and police officer Brian Sicknick died in hospital after suffering serious head injuries during the siege.
Capitol police have not released details about how Boyland, from Kennesaw, Georgia, died.
Boyland's sister Lonna Cave said the family has heard conflicting accounts. A friend who was with her said Boyland was pinned to the ground and trampled during a violent clash between rioters and police.
But her sister said a police detective told the family Boyland had collapsed while standing off to the side in the Capitol Rotunda.
Cave said her sister had no intention of committing violence when she travelled to Washington. The family had begged her not to go.
"She promised me, 'I'm going to stand on the sidelines. I'm just going to show my support,'" Cave said.
Boyland had been arrested multiple times on drug offences, but had been sober for several years and found new purpose in politics, said Nicholas Stamathis, a friend of hers from Kennesaw.
"She got clean and sober and stopped blaming other people for her problems and got real conservative," Stamathis said of his friend, whom he called "Rosie".
She attended meetings of an addiction group in Atlanta and picked up her young nieces every day from school, her sister said.
The deadly insurrection led Boyland's brother-in-law, Justin Cave, to call for Trump's removal from office.
"My own personal belief is that I believe that the President's words and rhetoric incited a riot that killed four of his biggest fans," said Cave, a former host of the HGTV show Ground Breakers.
The sisters also clashed over Boyland's political views and the QAnon myth. Boyland had begun following the conspiracy theory over the past six months, Cave said. "It just spiralled."
"She would text me some things, and I would be like, 'Let me fact-check that.' And I'd sit there and I'd be like, 'Well, I don't think that's actually right'. We got in fights about it, arguments."
Boyland's Facebook page featured photos and videos praising Trump and promoting fantasies, including one theory that a shadowy group was using the coronavirus to steal elections.
While they hadn't seen each other in years, Stamathis said they chatted over Facebook Messenger regularly. A week or two ago, they had traded memes "of liberals losing their mind" online.
"Making fun of liberals together, we bonded over that a lot," he said.
Boyland's friend, Justin Winchell, said Boyland was pinned to the ground when groups of police and protesters pushed against each other. People began falling and then trampling one another, Winchell told WGCL-TV in Atlanta.
"I put my arm underneath her and was pulling her out and then another guy fell on top of her, and another guy was just walking [on top of her]," Winchell said. "There were people stacked two to three deep … people just crushed."
The two others who died of medical emergencies are Kevin Greeson, 55, of Athens, Alabama and Benjamin Philips, 50, of Ringtown, Pennsylvania.
Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher, according to law enforcement officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Boyland's final post on Twitter — a retweet of a post from Dan Scavino, the White House social media director — was a picture of thousands of people surrounding the Washington Monument on Thursday. The photo was taken before Trump, in a speech there, repeated his unfounded claims of election fraud and incited demonstrators to go to the Capitol as lawmakers debated the electoral votes.
Boyland's family has received multiple threats since her death. They blame Trump for the violence, believing she got caught up in the President's lies about the election.
"It cost her her life," Lonna Cave said.
- With news.com.au