A West Texas teenager who said she was dying of leukemia and collected $17,000 in donations may now face felony charges for theft by deception.
Police say Ruth Angelica Gomez, 18, of Horizon City, Texas, is not sick and solicited the money under false pretenses. Well-intentioned donors sent thousands of dollars to the Achieve the Dream Foundation, which Gomez created in May. She also raised money through motivational speeches, and she sought out publicity.
Investigators announced on Tuesday that, since June, they had been looking into a complaint that Gomez did not seem sick. She has not been arrested yet, but the district attorney's office is reviewing felony charges against her.
We haven't found anything that indicates that she does have leukemia, Liliane Medina, a Horizon City police detective, told The Associated Press.
The El Paso Times wrote about Gomez in March and quoted her as saying that she had spent much of her life from age 2 to 13 at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo. But the hospital has no record of treating Gomez, Fox News reported on Wednesday. Nor does St. Jude's Children's Hospital, where she also claimed to have received treatment.
The doctors are telling me to prepare myself and to start planning for what's about to come, Gomez told The El Paso Times, saying she had only six months to live.
The Web site for her foundation wasn't in service on Wednesday, but The Houston Chronicle reported that an archived version showed a smiling Gomez sporting a dark T-shirt with her organization's green ribbon-shaped logo and the tagline: 'Behind every fighter there is a supporter. Will you be mine?'
It seems Gomez even fooled the people closest to her. She is estranged from her parents, who would have known the truth, and Nicole Matsuda -- a youth leader at Gomez's church, with whom Gomez was staying after claiming to have been kicked out of her house -- believed her story.
She would be weak, always sleeping, Matsuda told Fox News, adding that, although she had doubts at times, You almost felt guilty if you had a suspicion. How can you question someone who is dying?
Even Gomez's fiancé, Freddy Alcantar, thought she had cancer.
I don't know what's real and what's not, Alcantar told Fox News. Hopefully, it's a rumor and it will blow over.