A Florida couple has been charged with child abuse, among other crimes, after they lied to their 13-year-old son about having terminal brain cancer. Why? Because they wanted to cash in on donations offered for his medical treatment.
Robert Long, 47, and his wife, Ginny, 34, were arrested Thursday and charged with nine counts of fraud after an investigation that first began last fall.
The couple also created crowdfunding pages on GoFundMe and posted on Facebook soliciting donations, according to police.
Since May 2017, their son, Dawson Long, believed he had terminal brain cancer.
In one post just after Christmas, Ginny Long wrote:
“I have been waiting to posted this for a few day’s now. As most of you know we was told that it would be a miracle if Dawson is still with us by Christmas. Well its three days past Christmas and he is doing okay. He still has his good and bad day’s, but we are some blessed and happy parents knowing he has come this far.”
In another, just after New Year’s Day, Robert Long wrote:
“Living in fear every moment that this could be the last day I get to spend with Dawson and the fear of how his brother Dylan is handleing things is too much for me im not as strong a person as I used to be so Please help me be strong for Ginny she is about to total loose it and Im afraid Im not going to be strong enough to help her !!”
According to Robert Long’s Facebook page, he is a former U.S. Marine.
In posts published this week, Robert Long appears to blame the entire episode on his wife, saying: “I had no idea that she was crazy enough to make this up I gave my heart to her and those two boys. As now I am regretting ever letting someone into my heart.”
He also says that thoughts of “just walking into moving traffic keeps popping in my head.”
In a further twist, the photo on their son’s Facebook profile shows him in a hospital gown and with a shaved head. It’s unclear if the photo was actually taken in a hospital or doctor’s office.
Authorities first caught on to the scam when the couple held a T-shirt sale at their son’s school. According to police, a school resource officer told authorities they became suspicious because their son appeared to be in good health.
The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement: “The 13 year old has spent the last eight months believing he is going to die from brain cancer, but the OCSO’s investigation revealed his medical records prove no brain tumors exist.”
As news spread of the couple’s crimes — nine counts of fraud and one count of child abuse — people in the community of nearly 200,000 flocked to social media to share their disdain for the parents and express their sympathy for the child.
“As a mother of a small child fighting cancer this absoulely infuriates me,” wrote Ashley Nichole Welles.
“How sad,” wrote Tracie Giles Carr. “I hope whoever ends up raising him is able to help him get beyond the trauma this is sure to have caused him. Smh at the lengths people will go.”
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