According to Swarbrick, Te'o received a call from a woman claiming to be his girlfriend in December, telling him she was not dead. Those calls continued but Te'o did not answer, he said.

Stanford University's registrar's office told CNN that it has never had a student registered in Kekua's name or using an alternate spelling.

"Outside of a few Twitter and Instagram accounts, there's no online evidence that Lennay Kekua ever existed," Deadspin contends. "There was no Lennay Kekua."

Her 'soulful eyes'

So, how did the two fall in love?

If the South Bend Tribune in Indiana -- the newspaper of Notre Dame's home town -- is to be believed, the two met -- yes, met -- after a football game in Palo Alto, California, in 2009.

"Their stares got pleasantly tangled, then Manti Te'o extended his hand to the stranger with a warm smile and soulful eyes," the paper gushed. "They could have just as easily brushed past each other and into separate sunsets. Te'o had plenty to preoccupy himself that November weekend in Palo Alto, Calif., back in 2009."

The article went on to say: "Lennay Kekua was a Stanford student and Cardinal football fan when the two exchanged glances, handshakes and phone numbers that fateful weekend three seasons ago."

Te'o's father, Brian, was quoted in the article: "They started out as just friends. Every once in a while, she would travel to Hawaii, and that happened to be the time Manti was home, so he would meet with her there. But within the last year, they became a couple."

Media reports indicate the parents never met Kekua.

The newspaper said Wednesday it based the details on information from Te'o, his family members and coaches -- and pulled the story from its website.

Te'o tried to clear things up with a statement Wednesday saying he "developed an emotional relationship with a woman I met online."

"We maintained what I thought to be an authentic relationship by communicating frequently online and on the phone, and I grew to care deeply about her."

In his statement, reported by ESPN, the star said, "To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone's sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating.

"It further pains me that the grief I felt and the sympathies expressed to me at the time of my grandmother's death in September were in any way deepened by what I believed to be another significant loss in my life."

Will the real Kekua please stand up?

Late Wednesday night, the story took another twist when ESPN found an NFL player who said he knew Kekua and that she is a real woman. The player, Reagan Mauia, an Arizona Cardinals fullback, told the sports network that he and Pittsburgh Steelers star Troy Polamalu met her

"This was before her and Manti," Mauia told ESPN. "I don't think Manti was even in the picture, but she and I became good friends. We would talk off and on, just checking up on each other kind of thing. I am close to her family."

Then later Wednesday night came a tweet from @LennayKay -- a Twitter handle that once was associated with Kekua.

"It isn't fair to drag Reagan and Troy into this.. a lot of truths and myths need to be addressed here, and they will be at noon PST tomorrow," the tweet said.

The other two tweets on the page were retweets from the verified account of Te'o.

"@LennayKay I miss you!" said a November 6 tweet from Te'o's said.

On September 12, Te'o tweeted "@LennayKay you will always be with me wherever I go!"

Now that may be true.