An Indiana woman accused of lying about her son's battle with lung cancer and using the contrived illness as an excuse to fraud her community was arrested Thursday, following a police investigation.
Stephanie Weddle, a 32-year-old mother of seven, faces forgery and theft charges after allegedly scamming $2,000 in donations from people who wanted to help pay for her son's medical bills. According to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police, she used the money for minor expenses, including gas money, and even told the boy and other family members that he had cancer.
“She stated that she used it to pay a few utilities, gasoline for her car, and she also stated she paid some sport registration fees for her other kids with this money,” Detective Sgt. Eric Eads told Fox affiliate WXIN.
He described Weddle's involvement of her son in the alleged scam -- telling the boy that he had cancer when he did not -- as "pretty low."
According to court documents obtained by the station, doctors had discovered a spot on the boy's lung during an x-ray. Weddle said she thought it might be cancer and began telling people so in February. Doctors later told her it was not cancer, but she kept up the ruse in order to continue to collect donations, the complaint charges.
"Once she did that, they started to give her attention, they started to give her money, and... she kind of fed off that," Eads said in an interview with WRTV.
Some people held fundraisers to help Weddle, but others became suspicious when the boy didn't seem to get sick. A police officer who coached the boy's baseball team pushed for an investigation.
WXIN reports that child protective services has take custody of Weddle's children. The accused woman is being held in Marion County jail.
Police are asking for anyone with additional information to contact the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office.