The families couldn't afford to bury the three friends.
A Florida woman has been accused of stealing $12k from a GoFundMe set up for the families of the victims of a triple homicide.
Amanda Brown, 32, is facing fraud and grand theft charges, as well as misusing the identities of deceased persons, after police say she pilfered money from a fund set up after the Frostproof fishing trip massacre.
In July, childhood pals Brandon Rollins, Keven Springfield and Damion Tillman were murdered while on a night-time fishing trip, allegedly over a missing truck engine.
More than 200 people donated to the "Polk County Triple Homicide, Family Expenses" on GoFundMe; but on Saturday investigators claimed that the organizer — "Amy Lynn" — was spending all the money on herself.
The scam was flagged when a mother of one of the murder victims received a link to the GoFundMe via Facebook Messenger; she contacted the other grieving families and confirmed that none of them had authorized the fund, were receiving any of the money or even knew the organizer.
Polk County Sheriff subpoenaed the information from GoFundMe, and discovered Brown had raised $11,915.00 — straight into her own account.
"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," Chief Steve Lester told WFLA.
When she was arrested, she told police she intended to give the funds to the families listed on the account, her affidavit reads; however, once she began receiving the funds, she allegedly began spending it for personal use.
She was charged with five counts criminal use of personal ID, one count grand theft, one count misrepresentation of proceeds, and one count fraud.
"She used my name, used my son's picture to gather money that these people thought they were giving to my family," Brandon Rollins' mother Dottie Payton told the site.
"I have no use for her. She can rot... She got caught and now she's going to have to pay for what she did."
"I think it's sick," she added. "I sure hope she had fun spending the money from deceased boys and taking from the families."
After the three friends were murdered, Sheriff Grady Judd told a press conference that "the folks who lost their loved ones that night are poor people."
He said at the time his office turned down lots of offers for reward money to catch the perpetrators, and instead asked the community to help with funeral expenses.
"Because there's nothing worse than having to bury your child, unless it's... having to bury your child and you don't have any money," he said.
Indeed Polk County Sheriff's Office itself spearheaded a fundraiser to pay for the three funerals, splitting the money evenly between the three families.
"This woman exploited family members of three young men who were brutally murdered," Sheriff Judd said after Saturday's arrest. "While they were grieving, she used their personal information to solicit complete strangers to donate money to a fake GoFundMe account. It doesn't get much lower than that."
He said GoFundMe had refunded all the money to the "generous donors who were swindled."
Tony "TJ" Wiggins stands accused of the triple murder, while his girlfriend Mary Whittemore, and his younger brother William "Robert" Wiggins are accused of helping him.