Alissa Jackson had stage four ovarian cancer. It was a terminal diagnoses. Her five children, between the ages of five and 18, had all been told she was dying. Their mother was bedridden, crippled, and became a focal point for community support. For two years this went on. For two years the lie persisted.
It began in October of 2013 when Jackson confided in Jenn Huelsmann, whose children attended the same school as Jackson’s, that she had been diagnosed with the terminal condition. Huelsmann began rallying others in the community to help Jackson.
Spaghetti dinners, raffles, parties, and internet funding sites were all organized to help pay Jackson’s medical bills. A family from California even donated their 2007 Honda minivan to her and her husband. In total, roughly $30,000 was raised for Jackson, not counting the groceries, food, and other gifts she was bestowed out of the community’s compassion. She had even received the support of Chris Allsup, another cancer patient who supported Jackson until dying last January from the disease.
Following Chris’s death, the community support for Jackson grew. They were not about to lose another companion. Chris’s sister even threw a benefit “prom” for Jackson, who claimed to have never attended her own in high school.
No one suspected they were being deceived. No one in “Alissa’s Army”, as they called themselves, realized they were being used.
Suspicion began in 2014. Huelsmann noticed that Jackson didn’t seem to be getting any worse. Then came the message from Jackson that she was going to the hospital and might not make it back out. Her supporters rushed over to see her, but they were told the hospital had no record of her admittance. Eventually a private investigator was called in. At the investigator’s advice following his inquiry, the group contacted the police.
Belleville detectives visited Jackson’s home and were told that her cancer had spread to her kidneys and brain. At the detective’s request, Jackson signed a medical release form. Her records showed no indication or history of cancer. The detectives confronted Jackson and she confessed. It is unclear at this time how much Jackson’s husband did or did not know about the lie.
Jackson pleaded guilty recently to two counts of theft of more than $500 by deception. Her sentencing is scheduled for January 28 and she is facing up to five years in prison.
Sources for Today’s Article:
Hundsdorfer, B., “Illinois Woman Admits She Faked Cancer for Money,” Miami Herald. December 17, 2015; http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/national/article50399725.html.
Sells, G., “Woman Accused of Fake Cancer Scam Raised $30,000; Lied to Children,” FOX2now.com, June 4, 2014; http://fox2now.com/2014/06/04/woman-accused-of-fake-cancer-scam-raised-30000-lied-to-children/.