The community of Mesquite rallied behind a 7-year-old boy's battle with cancer.
Now, police say the boy's mother lied about his illness to make a quick buck.
Police say 33-year-old Shawnanna Starr Flores had her own family convinced that her son was battling a rare form of liver cancer called Heptoblastoma since May.
In July, a video posted on Facebook shows the 7-year-old boy telling the world he has cancer and his family needs help paying for medical treatment. A woman is heard in the video telling the boy exactly what to say.
Mesquite police say the video is just one of the ways Flores tried convincing the small community to donate money. Facebook users joined Flores in what they thought was a quest to save her son's life. They bought t-shirts, wristbands and helped plan fundraisers. There was also a bank account set up for donations.
The total amount of money Flores collected is not yet determined, but police say it wasn't going to pay for the boy's cancer treatment because he doesn't have cancer. They arrested Flores on Friday after an investigation that involved pulling medical records that proved the boy was cancer-free.
"If someone says their child has cancer, you can't do anything but trust them," said Detective Sergeant MaQuade Chesley. He says the boy believes his terminal illness is real.
Family members say they're not sure what to believe, but they're convinced Flores wouldn't lie to them about her son's health. Some family members said they witnessed the boy battling illness and accompanied him and his mother to doctor's appointments.
Flores is at the Clark County Detention Center. She faces a number of felony charges including fraud, theft and child abuse. Police say more charges could be on the way as they continue investigating, along with Child Protective Services.
This isn't the first time Flores has appeared on FOX5 News. In May, she told one of our reporters the story of her 12-year-old son's death. The boy died from appendicitis, after police say the boy's stepmother, Kalinda Mercado waited too long to get him medical treatment.
"I felt like somebody just took a knife and stuck it in me and pulled it out and laughed about it," Flores said at the time. She said she was kept away from her biological son for several months leading up to his death, and couldn't afford a lawyer to fight for custody.
Anyone who has information on the incident or donated money to the Rodrigo Cancer Fund is urged to call Mesquite Police at (702) 346-5262 ext 6032.
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