ESPN reportedly sat on the story of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o’s fake girlfriend for 10 days before Deadspin exposed the hoax on Wednesday. A Notre Dame spokesman said the school learned that Te’o’s deceased girlfriend “Lennay Kekua” wasn’t real on Dec. 26 when Te’o explained he was the “victim” of a hoax.

But as Twitchy reported yesterday, the news was floating around Twitter even earlier. On Dec. 3, a now-suspended Twitter user with the [email protected] tweeted, “Do a background check and you’ll see that not only did Lennay Marie Kekua not die, she never existed!”

As Twitter user Justin Megahan ‏tweeted, that wasn’t the only December outing of Manti Te’o’s phony Internet girlfriend.

On Dec. 4, another Twitter account — with this story, we hesitate to call @jayRahz another person — indicated that Lennay’s existence was a hoax.

BuzzFeed notes that “Titus Tuiasosopo, the father of Ronaiah, who Deadspin pointed to as the perpetrator of the hoax, is a pastor.” And Deadspin reported that “Te’o and Tuiasosopo definitely know each other.”

@jayRahz continued to tweet about the hoax in December and early January, sometimes with Twitter [email protected]

So, [email protected] [email protected] in on the hoax? Are they even real? Are we real? Minds blown!

After the Deadspin story was published and people started digging even more, @jayRahz and @ceeweezy51 defended themselves on Twitter.

Yeah, well, hindsight and all that.

Another twist, via SBNation:

The media are a lot more interested in the bizarre story of Te’o’s imaginary girlfriend than digging into Benghazi and other stories of import.

We have a feeling they’ll tease apart this tangled web.