A woman who appeared to help her slain co-worker’s 11-year-old daughter when tragedy struck by setting up a GoFundMe account which raised $38,000 has been arrested for fraud.
Arlene Petty, 30, from Capitol Heights, Maryland has been charged with one count of first-degree fraud by Washington DC police stemming from her use of the account, the Washington Post reported.
Petty’s co-worker Stephanie Goodloe, a 39-year-old church youth ministry director, was shot to death in her own home near Capitol Hill, in June 2016.
Her little girl was asleep in the next room, woke up to four gun shots and saw the man she had called ‘Daddy,’ Donald Hairston, 49, run past her room before finding her mother’s lifeless body in bed.
The campaign had collected $38,185 before it was flagged for misuse and temporarily suspended, DC police said in an arrest affidavit.
Goodloe’s cousin, Kim Smith, 47, said the family would be following this case very closely, as it still grapples with proceedings against Hairston, the alleged murderer.
‘Along with the murder trial, this is yet another case that the family has to follow so we know that justice has been served,’ Smith said.
Petty had initially given joint access to the fundraiser to the grandmother of Goodloe’s daughter.
But on March 29, a relative filed a complaint with GoFundMe, when the grandmother said she had been ‘locked out’ of the account.
The arrest affidavit alleges that Petty transferred to $35,054 of the money from the campaign to a personal account, and that she ‘kept the majority of the funds raised for herself.’
The affidavit also said that $9,000 of the total money raised had been transferred to the daughter’s grandmother.
That leaves $26,054 unaccounted for, of the money allegedly transferred to Petty’s personal account.
DC police did not immediately return a call requesting clarification on the amount of money at issue in relation to Petty’s fraud charge.
The campaign was created on June 20, 2016, just two days after Goodloe’s killing.
Goodloe’s loved ones thought it was odd that a work colleague had created the GoFundMe page.
Smith also could not recall which of Goodloe’s multiple jobs Petty knew her cousin from, but when Smith voiced concerns, she was comforted by finding out the fundraising campaign was set up as a joint account with the daughter’s grandmother.
Bobby Whithorne, a spokesperson for GoFundMe, told the Post that misuse of the site occurs in ‘less than one-tenth of one percent’ of all campaigns launched on platform.
‘[Users are] fully protected and we guarantee the money goes to the right place,’ Whithorne said.
Whithorne pledged on behalf of the crowdfunding site to work with police and the courts to ‘ensure all of the money raised goes to the family.’
He added that ‘GoFundMe will make a donation to the family’ if the courts fail the Goodloes in getting their money back from Petty.
Petty was arrested and released from jail over the weekend.
Her next hearing in scheduled for January 22 in Washington, DC Superior Court.
Petty could not immediately be reached for comment.
Hairston, Goodloe’s ex-boyfriend and the man her daughter saw in their home on the night she was killed, has been charged in Goodloe’s killing.
The mother had been granted a restraining order against her ex just two weeks before her death, according to court records.