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Posted August 12, 2012 | comments 45 Comments

Trusted friend charged with stealing from Trent Williams family

By Joe Beck - jbeck@nvdaily.com and Sally Voth - svoth@nvdaily.com

A trusted friend of the Strasburg family who recently lost their son to brain cancer has been arrested on charges of stealing medicines and financial donations meant for him.

Strasburg police on Aug. 6 arrested Jessica Lynn Taylor, 28, of 136 North Place Lane, Strasburg, and charged her with 16 felonies. She is accused of stealing money from a bank account intended to pay for the medical expenses of the late Trent Williams, the 8-year-old boy who captured the town's heart during his struggle with cancer.

Trent died last month after a nearly two-year battle with medulloblastoma. A legion of supporters - from Strasburg and around the world - had rallied behind Trent, his twin Logan, older brother Caden and parents Eric and Jennifer Williams.

In a press release issued Sunday, Chief Tim Sutherly said department Investigator Wayne Sager had "obtained reason to believe" that more than $2,000 "had been illegally removed from the account intended for Trent's medical expenses."

In the release, Sutherly described Taylor "as a trusted friend [who acted as the] administrator of the account" while the Williams family was focused on caring for their dying son. He said Taylor and Mrs. Williams had gone to school together and had been friends since sixth grade.

When the Williams family came home from the hospital, Sutherly said, "they noticed that the account [which] should have several thousand dollars in it, it only had $69."

In addition to the missing money, the Williams family noticed a bag they used for Trent's various painkillers was missing.

"When we searched her [Taylor's] house, we found that also," Sutherly said, noting the painkillers included oxycontin and fentanyl.

Sutherly said Taylor confessed to the crimes and has been bailed out of the Shenandoah County Jail on $2,500 bond. Taylor is scheduled to appear in Shenandoah County General District Court on Sept. 10, according to online court records.

  • The press release states that Taylor was charged with:
  • six counts of embezzlement
  • six counts of obtaining money under false pretenses
  • four counts of grand larceny
  • two misdemeanor charges of petty larceny

"The family is extremely grateful for the overwhelming support received by the community and distraught that a close friend betrayed their trust in such a manner," Sutherly stated in the press release.

Sutherly said the investigation began when police fielded a call Aug. 5 from Mrs. Williams, informing them that donations in the account were missing. Prescription drugs intended for her son's medical condition were also reported missing, police said.

Police found the prescription drugs during a search of Taylor's residence, Sutherly said.

"When confronted with the evidence against her on Aug. 6, Jessica Taylor gave a full confession to Investigator Sager and was arrested . . ." Sutherly stated in the release.

Sutherly said the family is now managing all its accounts.

All donations can be sent to the Williams Family, General Delivery, Strasburg, Va. 22657, or to the foundation. Checks can be made payable to Friends of Trent, c/o First Bank, 112 W. King St., Strasburg, Va. 22657 or any First Bank branch to Friends of Trent.

PayPal accounts can be sent to Pay-pal: prayersfortrent@yahoo.com

45 Comments | Leave a comment

    Shame, shame, shame on you!

    Why in God's name would anyone steal from a family who had just lost their son? Stealing from anyone is wrong, but in this case it is unforgivable.

    What a sick person. How could you claim to be a friend to this family and this precious little boy and do this to them? They need people to help them thru this difficult time not steal from them and their son. The court needs to throw her under the jail and make her repay everything she stole times two for their pain and suffering.

      What she did is reprehensible, but I'm sure there will be a legion of her ilk defending her and making excuses for her;

      This is one time I'm glad ShenCo is as small as it is; if she gets one of the famous ShenCo Slaps on the wrist, at least the public shame will suffice for punishment.

    There is no excuse whatsoever for what this so called "friend" did to this family. There are absolutely no words to describe her. Little Trent was a true soldier, fighting for his life every single day; with his family by his side, praying for a miracle. To steal is a sin: to steal anything from a dying child who is fighting so hard and a loving family and a multitude of caring friends, is horrendous and unforgiveable. The court may slap her on the wrist, especially if it is her first offense; but in the eyes of the public and God, she will pay. There is no excuse whatsoever for what she did. I only hope and pray that the community stands behind the Williams family and realizes that this had nothing to do with them or Trent. They are suffering so much and it is just so unfair for them to have to deal with such a betrayal.

    May God continue to be with them and may the public and the community continue to support them in this time.

    More heartbreak for the Williams family. How very sad.

    Why didn't the family go with First Bank at the beginning? After all, trust administration is what banks do. First Bank is old, established and reputable. Better to go with a community bank where the people are honest and are likely your neighbors.

      They have always used First Bank. They placed her in charge of the account while they were taking care of their son. They trusted her because Mrs. Williams has known her for quite a long time. So. apparently there was a mess up somewhere. I am just happy that she was caught and will have to pay for what she did. That's just messed up.

      Okay, I wondered how long it would take for someone to BLAME the VICTIMS! Sure, hindsight is 20/20, but do you think the family had enough to deal with as they cared for and fought for their dying son? Do you think maybe that this piece of human trash was someone who the family trusted 100% and had known for many, many years. No signs shown so far that she could do such a thing? Recently a so-called friend and trusted employee of mine stole my pain medications right from under my nose in my own house. Is that my fault because I didn't follow her around while she worked??To suggest that the Williams family SHOULD have used a bank is to blame the victims of this unforgivable crime and you should be nothing but ashamed of yourself, aaspo, for expressing such a cold hearted, ignorant opinion.

        There is no blame intended for the family. We all agree that they have suffered enough. It is unthinkable that a friend could have betrayed a loving family when they were most vulnerable.

        But when money is involved, you need to take precautions. Trust administration by a bank, or a charitable tax-qualified nonprofit corporation could have not only avoided the theft but given the family the breathing space they needed.

        We understand that the community still wants to help the family financially. If so, then it would be advisable to institute safeguards. Justme asks a very logical question.

          Well, they aren't financial planners, aaspo. They're a young couple that had a dying child. They trusted someone they've known for 20 years, and they focused on their children.

          There is a special place in hell for someone that steals the painkillers of a child with terminal cancer. My God. How do you sleep at night?.

      First Bank has nothing to do with it.

    It doesn't matter what bank they chose, it still doesn't make it right for what happened!

    One way ticket to Hell

    A separate account should have been set up for the fundraising. It appears that a personal account was used. Funds could have been collected and placed in a Trust administered by the bank. Or the family could have set up a 501(c)(3) whereby donations would be tax-deductible. Under either option, strict rules would apply thereby safeguarding the monies so collected. We all agree that it was fortuitous that the criminal was apprehended and the monies apparently recovered. The family still needs funds. So it is not too late to establish a proper vehicle. Good luck to all.

    Too bad public stonings are no longer a form of punishment.

    What's with all the different ways to donate??? Donate to what?

      To answer your question Justme, people may still donate money to assist the family with the remaining bills from Trent's care and passing. The family is also establishing a foundation and will continue to raise and collect money to help others. The details of the foundation have not completely been determined.

    I dont think the Commonwealth Attorney's Office is the issue here...The problem resides with the lifetime appointees on the bench.

    Regardless of what type of account it should've never have happened!!! Besides, not only did she steal money from his account......she stole his painkillers. Here is a child who needs pain medicine and a worthless adult steals his meds that he took for the pain!!! What sickens me, is she was a trusted friend to the family. In their house, in their life, and she did this!!! The Williams family is one of the best people I know in this town and I am in utter shock that anyone would want to wrong them in anyway, especially after what they have been through. I would like to add in case they are reading this.........don't let her get you down, I would hope you know you do have real true friends......myself included. Love ya!!!

    whether or not she gets lets go, there is a special hell for people like this and she will NOT escape that judgement!

    As small as our community is, she'll be shunned out of the Valley for what she did. Now that this has come out with her name and face, she'll be pushed out. It's really a disgusting act of betrayal and loyalty. The mother is dealing with the loss of her young son, and now she is dealing with this and the loss of her best friend.

    What blather.

    The evil-doer is caught.

    The justice system is going through its slow process and will, with severity or leniency, prevail.

    I am sure that neither public stoning nor placing the perp "...under the jail" (Whatever that means) will be part of the sentence.

    As for the query about "Why donations are required," the family has probably used almost all their resources in treating their son. Like many in that circumstance, they may have to declare bankruptcy. The donations may help them keep what they have. Send them a few bucks, Scrooge.

    As for the rest of you self-righteous commenters, stop whining.

    As if this family doesn't have enough sorrow in their lives, to be betrayed by a best friend is a hurt so deep it can not be described. Just because this happened does not mean we should stop donations to such a worthy cause. By backing up the Williams family we show that we have faith in them and what they are doing. This story hit so hard and people will be overcome with emotion, Support the family and pray for them in this their hour of deception.

    Drugs shatter so many lives, not just the lives of those who are hooked. This has touched a family that already had a burden almost too much to bear. My heart goes out to them.

    Call me cold harted or whatever. My God get over it!! Yes it was wrong for what the woman did. I am very sorry that Trent died. People die everyday and I don't understand why he is so more important than others and had such a circus of a funeral. I understand the family has bills, well so do I. I don't understand the medical costs because I know that UVA Helps up to 100% of costs if the person doesn't have means to pay for health care. Something else that I noticed is that so many people were concerned and willing to do what they could while he was alive. I saw it on Facebook everyday. Where are all those people today? There might be a handful of post. Again, I am very sorry for the family for their loss. I hope one day Trent will be able to rest in peace and this drama will end.

      Get over it? A child lost his twin brother. Another lost his little brother. Parents lost a son. We ALL lost a treasured member of our community. I learned from Trent, and his amazing young family. I learned to appreciate my child more, and I'm not likely to ever eat a other s'more without thinking of Trent.

      I'm a runner, and Trent comes into my mind frequently on the road. I think to myself 'you think this is hard? Fighting brain cancer, that's hard. Burying your child, that's hard. Me? I'm just running up a hill. Suck it up'

      As far as where are these people today? We're still here. And we remain here. Giving Trent's family time to settle into life without him. Keeping them in our prayers. Donating to his foundation.

      The medical costs? Perhaps they are able to get them covered. That doesn't help with the huge financial toll on them just from getting him to treatments, taking time off work, trying to keep life somewhat normal for his brothers. I donated money with no strings. They can do anything they please with it. Maybe family counseling to help them cope? Maybe redecorate Logan's room some doesn't have to lie in bed and stare at Trent's empty bunk. Certainly it wasn't given so some lowlife could help herself to it, and you could demand that the world get over it.

      Trent's funeral was no circus. It was a spectacular show of support to a family that has suffered immeasurable loss. A family that graciously and willingly shared their son with all of us.
      Get over that.

        God bless you Snarks for your eloquence and stating what SHOULD be the obvious. Trent had brain cancer and felt sorry for people with broken arms! I hope that this "person" who stole those funds and painkillers sees Trent's face looking down at her from above every moment she closes her eyes. You'll always be a hero to us Trent and our prayers are still with you Williams' family.

      I would like to call you more than cold hearted but they would not post it. Anyone that saw what this child and family endured the past two years knows why you don't get over it. We can all put ourselves in their shoes and don't like how it feels. If you do not appreciate the support they recieve, you get over and stop reading it, because it will continue.

      Little 76, I am not sure if you get pleasure from being a troll, but you should be ashamed of yourself. What is wrong with you; telling people they should just get over it? Someone's child died. You don't "get over it". Calling their child's FUNERAL a circus....seriously, I am disgusted by your ignorance and jealousy. How about showing some respect?

    reply from Snarks
    Thank you so much for putting "our feelings" into words. Beautifully done.

    I am calling you COLD HEARTED (and A WHATEVER since you gave us license to do so!) GET OVER YOURSELF!
    What you are not understanding is that this sweet, young boy had a heart of gold! He pull a community together! He brought people together. Those who knew him and people who had not had the pleasure of meeting him in person. We were praying for and with him for nearly two years while he fought for his life. We are morning him now, along with his family. So I say, YOU GET OVER IT!
    This young boy gave love unconditionally. Maybe you should try it sometime. Then maybe you could bring a community together. To help you with your bills! Because this seems to be a problem for you that people are giving this family money. GET OVER IT!!!!
    We are still here..... morning the loss of such a young child. Still praying for his family. Who are you to say we are gone. HOW DO YOU KNOW THIS? How could you say his funeral was a circus? When it so was "a spectacular show of support to a family that has suffered immeasurable loss". I am sorry you can not see this. But GET OVER IT!
    To Snarks, thank you for your inspirational words. I also feel that my problems are so very small in comparison to the Williams Family.
    And Christina, you are right, this support will continue, for a very longtime to come. o Little 76, GET OVER IT!
    This woman who stole all of these things from this family has a very long hard road ahead of her. I know that money and pills could NEVER have been worth it. No one will ever trust her again. Karma is not a restaurant that hands you a menu to choose from. You get served what the universe deems appropriate.
    So again Little 76, get over it!

    I can say that I wrote a long response to this and it wasn't so nice, I sat back and read it. Then it came to me that Trent wouldn't want this. I am Trent's aunt, he is and always will be my nephew! But for people to say get over it, that people die everyday, that his funeral was a circus really shows how sad you really are.

    Trent deserved the world, he deserved a Hero's send off that he got. He fought day in and day out for 2 years when kids his age are going to school, playing with their friends, and wondering what game to play next, not what medicine to take next or what symptoms this medicine would do to him. Trent was a hero, he was a lil boy a 8 year old boy who had to deal with things that no one in their life time should have to deal with!

    The town came together as well as many others in many other states and countries. WE didn't ask for that! THEY did that on their own. THEY had fundraisers for him, THEY held auctions & bake sales! WE never expected anything for Trent! We just wanted Trent to get better, and to live a lifetime of happiness!

    Sadly our family chain is broken and now we have a Angel above looking over us. But for you to come on here being very rude about it is uncalled for. His mother/father/and other family members don't deserve to read what you put! It's sad! I wish you nothing but the best, but please don't down our family for loving our Trent! Trent will be forever missed, forever loved, and if his community wants to help out then so be it. We aren't twisting anyone's arms!

    To those who love our Trent like we do, Thank you! Thank you for helping, loving, commenting, and thank you for supporting our family at this time!

    This story is possible thanks to readily available opiates(for sale). Heroin in a pill. You will continue to see theives, no matter how the heart wrenching story, steal to support their habit. There is choices for a solution. Eliminate availability, which because of unsecure borders won't happen. Kill the offender, which should not happen because humans will always opt to do any drug and our country has not been proactive in keeping them unavailable. Or make them available at a free or at a price price better than a street dealer can supply. That would also keep grandmas rings safe. It sounds crazy but our government would save money and make money at the same time. Then the user would eventually kill themself. And kids (not all I understand) would learn by seeing the cases of destruction of life, not to ever do opiates. You will keep seeing humans steal to support opiate habits until something drastic is done. At what point do we say it is time to eliminate the weak to keep our standard of life higher? Or are we willing to pay for a lesser humans life behind bars?Tough question, no doubt.

    There is a special place in Hell for people who steal from cancer patients and/or their families.

    The experience endured by Trent's family changed them all forever. How sad that they also have to endure the betrayal of someone they thought to be their friend.

    Okay, everyone, little 76 got his 15 seconds of "fame" by getting the reactions he was probably trying to get. Let's move past that small, pathetic, hate-filled life and back to a life of love. I never knew Trent, but I followed the Facebook posts and felt blessed that I could do so. Some people can't stand others getting a lot of attention - but I am sure Trent's family would give up any and all attention to have this child back with them. Nothing worse than losing a child. If it happens every day, maybe we need to call attention to is every day. No one should have to lose a child.

    My response is to "little76", I too am one of Trents Aunts and last night after reading your comment I was prepared to sign in and give you a piece of MY mind. But for some reason I wasn't able to do that. Call it human error or call it devine intervention. For in the time that has lapsed, I've had time to really think about your unkind words and before I laid my head to my pillow I prayed about it. I prayed for you Little 76, I prayed that you may never have to know the pain of loosing someone so dear.....to never have to stand by and watch and not be able to do a damn thing about it. I prayed that you would never have to feel the heart being ripped from your chest when a child draws his last breath, YOUR child!! I also decided that I wasn't going to let your words turn something so beautiful and touching as the service that was given for Trent into something ugly just because of your opinion of it. Words can only hurt the recipient if they allow them to, ...I for one am not allowing it. Those who knew and loved Trent saw it as a tribute, a fairwell to a little boy who fought his battle long and hard against an unseen monster. A soldier, a police officer, a fireman who dies in the line of duty gets and deserves a send off like that.....why shouldn't a little boy who fought his battle bravely, without complaints and without feeling sorry for himself. And if it were up to me, every child who has had such a battle but surcome to cancer would have the same.
    Those facebook supporters you mentioned....thank God in Heaven for people who are filled with compassion. Do you know what it is to "LOVE" little 76? To think not of yourself or what your problems may be at the time, but to stand beside someone else who might have it just a little bit harder then you do right now.....to walk a path with a total stranger, to cheer them on, encourage them and to cry along side them......yeah, they're still there. They are OUR friends now, not just names on a prayer page, they are on our own personal pages, they have become part of us.....shame you can't feel that kind of closeness Little 76, it's truely amazing.
    So in closing, all I have to say is, I will continue to pray for you. That someday you may come to know what human compassion is really all about. That someday you will learn not to try to steal the beauty of something and make the world around you an ugly ugly place......God bless ya

    Little 76, you need some serious help!! Wowwwwwwww..

    L O W L I F E !!

    I'm really glad I added them hotpeppers to my soup tonight.

    I have been thinking about what I wrote. I am truly sorry for everyone that I hurt. When I said “get over it.” I meant Stop giving this woman attention and keep focusing on how to help Trent’s family cope with their loss. Trent was a very special boy that touched so many lives and that is something that no one can take away. Trent got to do many things in his short life, and he had a spectacular farewell. I know that funerals are for the family and friends to say goodbye and help to grieve. I also know that people don’t want to go to their own funeral before it is time, but why wait until someone dies? We should do this for people that are living before they die so they can see just how much their life meant to others. Like I said in the last post I am very, very sorry for the Williams Family.
    Please, God will Judge me, I don’t need you to.

      I suppose then Little 76, and any other naysayer who might add their 2 cents worth, if you do not want to be judged than judge not. Trent DID NOT get to do a lot. He spent the better part of 2 years lying in a hospital fighting, as my sister said an unseen monster that neither you nor any of us will probably ever battle. Let me tell you this about Trent Williams, he would say "do not be mean to little 76. I am sure that person did not mean to hurt our feelings. Maybe they just had a bad day or something." Okay T, in your honor and for God's glory, I will not beat up little 76 with my words. But know this, Trent's family is out here... all of us, blood or not, acting as a barrier to protect that mother and father and those young gentlemen who are their children, from words like yours and from predators such as is reported on this page. I would say choose your words quite wisely because as we have all learned in a few hours time, you may be forced to eat and worse, swallow them later. I am not sure who you are or what you know but I say to you, go read about Trent on his page Praying for Trent on FB so you too can understand a little tiny bit of what this child endured and fought through so he could say to "haters" or whomever, "it's okay, I love everybody, even Little 76." My heartfelt thanks to all of you who have prayed for our guy, supported our family and loved them just because. I agree with my sister again to say, where would we be without that dedication. Someday, perhaps you may know the rest of the story that goes along with this brief writing and understand better. But please know, the Williams family and all of us who are a link, DO NOT HATE and we believe that God has a plan. By all means, our hearts desire would be to have Trent here, with us. But that is not part of Gods plan. Therefore we grieve. What a tribute that those same people who LOVED T while he was here, gave to him as a sendoff to Heaven. I know I was blessed by it. Thank you again! Love to all. As always, we love you Trent and we miss you so so much! You will always be OUR HERO!

    I hope and pray that everyone can put behind them what little 76 said. The only negative comments I have seen throughout were those of that person. I had an employer one time who taught me that when you feel the need to say something negative, you should put the letter in a drawer for 24 hours and the next day read it over and see if you still feel the same way. I think perhaps little 76 should have done just that. He/she may have realized the hurt their words caused.

    I did not know Trent nor his family personally, but like so many others in this small town, truly felt connected with them. I hope the family and community can move past what little 76 said and what the "thief" took from them (not just money and medicine, but trust). Neither one of these people can take away the love and connection we have with this family. I pray I never have to endure the pain this family has gone through for 2 years.

    I just hope that those who wanted to contribute to Trent's honor by donating in his memory, are not afraid to do so now. I intend to send a donation and know that it will be put to good use, whether it be for medical bills or simply to establish a foundation in his name.

    In closing, I don't feel that Trent's untimely death nor the celebration of his life was a "circus". Those words were so very cruel. His life was to be celebrated. Don't be envious of the attention given to a grieving family. Thank God every day you are not in their shoes and pray that you never will be in that position.

    Let the community and small town honor little Trent with all the love and support they so desire. May people continue to support his "foundation" and who knows perhaps, hopefully, some day there will be a cure for this horrible disease.

    May God continue to bless the Williams family.

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