A mother of five from Belleville, Ill., is facing criminal charges for lying about having terminal cancer and raising tens of thousands for herself over a two-year span. Alissa Jackson, 31, has been described by police as “pure evil” for manipulating the community into believing her dubious diagnosis.
In addition to the $35,000 that was raised on her behalf, A restaurant donated 20 percent of their day’s profit to her cause, and friends and neighbors routinely dropped food off at her home three times a week. One person donated a minivan to her and another person even paid for a romantic getaway for her and her husband Brandon.
"The fact that this individual preyed on the good nature of our community and the people of our community for her own personal gain is absolutely disgusting in my opinion and pure evil," Belleville Police Sgt. Mark Heffernan told KSDK.com.
Jackson started off her scam by creating a Facebook page and organizing a fundraiser in her name called “Alissa’s Army Benefit.” The page explains how, after nine years working as a nurse, she had to stop because of her stage four ovarian cancer diagnosis, which was “very aggressive and has now spread to her brain, lymph nodes, spine, lungs and liver.” The page also explains how she is on her third round of chemotherapy with non-operable tumors.
Jackson was finally caught once she called her friends late one night to say goodbye because she was being rushed to the hospital. They rushed to the hospital too, only to find that Jackson had never been there before. Dana McQuade, who had helped Jackson purchase household cleaning supplies contacted the police, who then carried out a month-long investigation.
"She chased after a dog and one of the women thought, "Wait a minute, this isn't right. She's doing something that someone with stage four ovarian cancer wouldn't be doing"' McQuade said.
When McQuade confronted Jackson, she broke down and told her the truth—that there had never been a cancer diagnosis to begin with.
"She was bawling on the phone,” McQuade said. “She was saying 'I didn't mean to hurt anybody. I don't want to go to jail. My husband is going to leave me'."
Jackson is a wife and mother to five children between the ages of five to 18 years old. She brought her game of pretend so far that she even claimed she was too sick to attend her oldest child’s high school graduation. Almost 20,000 women are diagnosed of ovarian cancer every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An estimated 90 percent of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer are 40 years or older, with the greatest number of cases occurring in women 60 years or older.
"Her kids believed her story, which is the unfortunate and tragic part of this case. Her kids are victims of this in my mind," Heffernan said.
Jackson outraged many people in the community. She was a member of a softball team, “Chris’ Angels” to raise money for women with ovarian cancer. Chris Allsup, who actually had ovarian cancer, died in January and her twin sister Pat continued to raise money for Jackson.
“Look at me. Tell me why, Alissa. Why did you do this to me and your kids?” Amanda Tabor asked in the courthouse hall after Jackson’s court appearance. Tabor helped raise $10,000 through a fundraiser.
“I’m sick to my stomach,” Tabor said. “I’m mad. Basically I’m angry, I’m hurt, I’m disgusted. I don’t see how somebody could do this.”
Jackson has been charged with two felony theft counts and her bond is set at $100,000.