Indianapolis mom pleads guilty to fake cancer claims
An Indianapolis mother who falsely claimed her son had cancer has pleaded guilty to forgery charges and is headed to jail.
Stephanie Weddle, 33, collected nearly $1,500 in donations for her 10-year-old son. Prosecutors say she collected $1,250 raised by a teacher and never paid $216 to a youth baseball group for T-shirts and wrist bands earmarked to raise money.
Weddle told family and friends doctors at Riley Hospital for Children-IU Health found a cancerous spot during an exam. She created a letter about the diagnosis online and admitted to stealing and signing a doctor's release form. She even lied to her son to convince him he was ill.
"To tell your own child he has cancer is the worst violation between a mother and child," the judge said in court Wednesday.
Weddle's story started to unravel when a police officer who had a son on her son's baseball team started asking questions. A detective investigating the case says she was also using a fake story about an out-of-town hospital.
"I did not know that they did not have a facility there. When I called the St. Jude Hospital in Louisville, it's actually a fundraising office. There's only four people there in that office and there is no treatment facility, so I had no idea," said IMPD Sgt. Eric Eads.
In court documents, Weddle told detectives the cancer story simply snowballed out of control.
"I think everyone understands that reaction, especially people who have kids. I have two kids myself and when you hear that, it kind of gives you pause," said Marion County Deputy Prosecutor Tim Delaney.
The judge sentenced Weddle to four years in community corrections for the crime as part of the plea deal. Her attorney had asked the judge for home detention.
"You just don't get to go home. Quit victimizing your children," the judge said.
"The biggest factor was how angry people were when they found out the boy did not have cancer. They were really upset about that," Eads said.
Weddle has a total of seven children and her attorney says she is remorseful. The children have been in foster care while Weddle has been in jail.