Statesboro Police arrested a woman Friday they said took money intended for burn victims but kept the funds for herself.
Two days after the Statesboro Herald published a story about the fraudulent collections, investigators located Arlena Michelle Reese, 27, who currently lives at Howard Johnson's Hotel, and charged her with three counts of theft by deception, said Statesboro Police Chief Stan York.
A relative of the Mincey family, whose West Main Street home was destroyed by fire last month, contacted the Herald about Reese allegedly going door to door, collecting money in the name of Mincey family members who were critically burned in the fire. However, Linda Carter, whose husband is related to the Mincey family, said the money collected by Reese never made it to the family members.
Cierra Mincey, 19, and her daughter Naomi, 2, are in critical but stable condition at the Joseph M. Stills Burn Center in Augusta. Mincey's nephew, 18-month-old Costello Reese, is in critical condition as well, and family members have said the boy's condition is a cause for concern.
Around 2 p.m. Friday, SPD Detective Capt. Scott P. Brunson arrested Reese, charging her with three counts of theft by deception, York said. "The defendant was soliciting funds from community businesses and individuals stating the funds would assist with the financial needs of the West Main Street fire victims.
"An investigation revealed that her statements were untrue and she used the funds for her personal use," he said.
Reese, who is related to the 18-month-old victim's biological father, is currently being held in the Bulloch County Jail awaiting further judicial proceedings. Anyone with any further information regarding this case is encouraged to contact Brunson at (912) 212-2301. "All calls will remain confidential," he said.