A Troy woman has been accused of faking cancer to get cash donations, just months after a Belleville woman was charged with the same crime.
Melissa Barton, 25, of Troy has been charged with theft by deception. According to Troy police, Barton told people that she had cancer and that her son had leukemia in order to receive cash donations.
Police said Barton received support from religious organizations, individuals and online donation sites such as youcaring.com and wepay.com. The charges filed by the Madison County State's Attorney refer only to a $500 donation from the First Baptist Church of Maryville, but spokesman Stephanee Smith said they would review for further charges if more information is developed.
"It's a shame that someone would claim to have cancer just to receive money," said Troy Police Chief Brad Parsons. "Troy is a community that will come together to help each other when it's needed. It is acts like this that make people more hesitant to assist those that really need the help."
Parsons said the police became involved when someone who had provided assistance came to them. "He became suspicious and questioned whether there was any cancer," he said.
Parsons said as far as they were able to ascertain, neither Barton nor her son had cancer. The child was briefly in foster care, but is back in Barton's custody upon her release from jail, he said.
In recent months, a Belleville woman was also charged with faking cancer to get cash donations.
Alissa Jackson, 31, is facing two counts of felony theft by deception. She is accused of accepting money from multiple fundraisers, including an event where Pizza Hut donated 20 percent of the day's sales and a school-organized spaghetti supper, to help pay nonexistent medical bills. She has pleaded not guilty.
Barton was arrested Wednesday and was in custody in the Madison County Jail. She has since made her bail of $50,000 and has been released. The charge is a Class 3 felony.
Parsons said there may be more charges as the investigation continues. "There's more than just the church (donations) that we're investigating," he said. "We're hoping more people will be aware of what's going on and get in contact with us."
According to police, Barton also used the names Melissa Dawn Pruett Barton and Missy Barton Pruett. Anyone with information is asked to contact Troy Police at 667-6731.
Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2507.