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Published: Tuesday, 10/2/2012

McComb woman accused of faking cancer for donations is freed on bond

Kimberlie Gustwiller Kimberlie Gustwiller

BOWLING GREEN -- A McComb, Ohio woman who police say faked a cancer diagnosis to get financial support posted $1,500 bond Monday and was released from the Wood County jail.

Kimberlie Gustwiller, 38, was arrested Friday on a felony charge of theft. North Baltimore Police Chief Allan Baer said Ms. Gustwiller has received "several thousand dollars" from community members and other well-wishers who reached out to help the single mother they were told had been diagnosed with Stage IV non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Hair salons in this southern Wood County did a robust business streaking people's hair pink to raise money for Ms. Gustwiller, who sports a pink Mohawk. 

"This town is amazingly generous and giving, and that's the thing," Chief Baer said. "It impacted everybody. It's far larger than what people realize. There are kids who made bracelets to raise funds. There' snot a girl in town that doesn't have a pink streak in her hair... They were misdirected by one individual. It's heart-breaking."

He said the suspected fraud was brought to his attention by some residents who have regular contact with Ms. Gustwiller and had doubts about her health issues.

"I started investigating," the chief said. "The information I started getting started building my suspicions, started validating my suspicions."

He got a subpoena for her medical records, which revealed no evidence of any cancer or related illness. According to records filed in Bowling Green Municipal Court, when police confronted Ms. Gustwiller she admitted she did not have lymphoma.

Chief Baer said some donations were placed in a benefit fund at Huntington Bank in North Baltimore for Ms. Gustwiller, while some donors sent it directly to her.

A benefit planned for Oct. 20 by the North Baltimore Eagles has been canceled, according to the NBXpress Web site, although organizers say they intend to hold an event that day but donate the money raised to "a truly deserving cause or person." Persons associated with the event did not return calls seeking comment.

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