POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A Florida woman is accused of spending money donated to benefit the families of a triple murder on shopping and bills, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
Amanda Brown, 32, faces charges related to fraud, grand theft and using the identities of deceased persons.
“I have no use for her. She can rot,” said Dottie Payton, mother of victim Brandon Rollins. “She got caught, and now she’s going to have to pay for what she did.”
In July, Rollins and his two friends, Damion Tillman and Keven Springfield, were murdered while on a fishing trip in Frostproof, Florida.
Since that day, Payton has regularly visited the location of the crime and the cemetery where her son is buried.
Things would be even worse, she said, if not for the outpouring of support from her community and the world.
“It’s just been amazing how everybody has just come together to support us,” she said. “If it wasn’t for the help of the community, I know myself and I know the other two families, we wouldn’t have been able to bury our children.”
Many people donated to Polk Sheriff’s Charities, which covered the funeral expenses for all three victims.
More than 200 people donated to “Polk County Triple Homicide, Family Expenses,” a now defunct GoFundMe page.
According to the sheriff’s office, it was created by Amanda Brown.
“She used my name, used my son’s picture to gather money that these people thought they were giving to my family,” said Payton.
The victims’ families contacted authorities when they noticed the mysterious GoFundMe page circulating online.
“Our detectives got contacted by some family and friends of the deceased and said, ‘Hey wait a minute. We didn’t open this GoFundMe account. We don’t know anything about it and we certainly haven’t gotten any money from it,’” said Polk County Sheriff’s Office Chief Steve Lester.
Brown is accused of depositing the more than $11,915 that was raised into her own accounts.
“We have her all over the county spending money. She’s at a Walmart, she’s at various ATM machines. She even went and paid a $1,300 water bill in Frostproof,” said Lester.
Detectives say Brown was linked to the crime after she was arrested Sunday on meth charges.
“The booking photographs of the subject was reviewed at which time, I noticed the subject seen on the surveillance images resemble Amanda Brown,” the detective wrote in Brown’s arrest affidavit.
According to the affidavit, Brown confessed to the crime.
“Amanda Brown stated she intended to give the funds to the families listed on the account, however, once she began receiving the funds, she began spending it for personal use,” the affidavit reads.
A judge set bail at $28,000 Thursday. GoFundMe is sending a refund to the people who donated.
“I think it’s sick,” said Payton. “I sure hope she had fun spending the money from deceased boys and taking from the families.”
“When you take this kind of tragic event, especially locally, for these families and you use that as a means to create a scheme like this, it doesn’t get any worse,” Lester said. “It’s despicable.”