August 15, 2014

On her way to 'Dr. Phil': Troy woman accused of cancer fraud is arrested at airport

A Troy woman accused of defrauding people with false claims that she and her son had cancer was intercepted by police at the airport as she headed to Chicago to appear on the "Dr. Phil" television show.

Melissa D. Barton, 25, was charged with a second count of theft by deception, according to Troy Police Department Chief Brad Parsons. The additional charge came because more victims have been located since she was first charged 10 days ago, according to Parsons.

Barton was arrested on a warrant Thursday at the Abraham Lincoln Capitol Airport in Springfield. She was transferred from Springfield to Madison County were, as of Friday afternoon, she remained jailed on $100,000 bail

When asked if he thought Barton was trying to flee the area, Parsons said no.

"We don't think so," Parsons said. "We've heard that she was on her way to Chicago to be on the 'Dr. Phil' show."

She originally was charged Aug. 5 with theft by deception, after allegedly accepting assistance from people whom she told she had cancer and her son had leukemia.

Parsons said Barton appealed on social media, at a local church and in person from local residents for cash to help her family financially.

Barton is the second metro-east woman who has made the news with reports that she faked cancer to gain benefits and sympathy. Earlier this year, a Belleville woman was also charged with faking cancer to get cash donations.

Alissa Jackson, 31, of Belleville, 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 a day's sales and a school-organized spaghetti supper, to help pay nonexistent medical bills. She has pleaded not guilty.

Barton was jailed on $50,000 bail after the first charge but was able to bond out.

Parsons said police continue to investigate additional leads in the Barton case, which remains open.

"Right now I can tell you that the case isn't closed," Parsons said. "We're following every lead and looking for more victims. But no additional charges are imminent."

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 Scott Wuerz at or call 239-2626.

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