Fifteen-year-old brain cancer patient "Jonathan Jay White" turns out to have been a 24-year-old woman in Ammon, Idaho, who was found Wednesday in her car, dead of an apparent suicide.
Melissa Ann Rice apparently committed suicide days after she was charged with grand theft by fraud. Posing as Jonathan Jay, she won the sympathies of Lance Armstrong and other celebrities and netted thousands of dollars from national cancer foundations.
Little is known about the extent of the scam, and even less about Rice herself, beyond that she may have once passed some bad checks. According to KPVI News in Pocatello, Idaho, Rice had recently copped to the hoax.
Sgt. Doug Metcalf: "Last week she was supposed to arrive in Arizona for actual surgery and when the charities said hey good luck on your surgery, we'll have somebody there, that's when this Melissa contacted them and said hey this is a fraud I'm sorry."
That's when the sheriff's office got involved.
Metcalf says many people were victims of this scam. Detectives say a fund was set up where thousands of dollars was being collected. That money is safe because it was never sent to the Ammon address. But it's unclear how much money was sent directly to her Ammon apartment. With a warrant in hand, deputies went inside and recovered numerous items donated for Jonathan like an autographed guitar from country singer Kenny Chesney, and a skateboard from Tony Hawk.
We linked to this yesterday, but reading Jonathan Jay's Blogger profile now, you can maybe start to make out a sad, twisted 24-year-old behind the curtain:
My name is Jonathan Jay, I was diagnosed with Anaplastic Astrocytoma [[Brain Cancer]] in April of 2008 & am currently undergoing treatments. I have a huge list of things I plan on accomplishing before I die so I will not let Cancer defeat me. Upon beating my Cancer I will start to train so I can compete in the Ford Ironman in Kona Hawaii as well as Climb Mount Rainier with Sean Swarner and race in the Great Wall Marathon in China. I have adopted the LIVESTRONG & Keep Climbing philosophy into my life & have been a better person because of it. I am not ordinary so don't expect me to be. I have my own style & my own way of doing things. I consider myself a good friend and will do anything I can for those I care about. I love music & cannot survive without my IPod; it holds the fuel that keeps me going throughout the day. I also rarely go anywhere without my phone. I miss seeing my friends & going to school. I love learning & plan on becoming a surgeon & performing medical miracles with my mind. Pictures amaze me. I love to read & enjoy writing which is why I have a blog.