Homelessness is a common issue amongst veterans in America. They often suffer from PTSD, have trouble adjusting back to civilian life, and must find work in an already competitive job market with no recent relevant experience. Though many organizations have formed to help vets, some still fly under the radar and end up on the streets.
In October 2017, a young woman named Kate McClure from Philadelphia found herself in an unexpected emergency. When a homeless veteran came to her rescue, she and her boyfriend seemed eternally grateful. The couple’s efforts to repay the man, however, soon became a vicious cycle that ultimately turned them into enemies…
Holiday photos always look joyful, but not every picture is what it seems. The couple on the right showed a big act of kindness to the man on the left, but this story doesn’t have such a happy ending.
It all started when Kate McClure, a woman in her late twenties, was driving down I-95 in Philadelphia when she ran out of gas and was forced to stop her car. There was no money in her wallet and her cell phone was dead.
Out of the shadows, a silhouette appeared. At first, Kate was scared. After all, she was a woman alone, stranded in a deserted area and a stranger was approaching her car. She had nowhere to hide though, so she waited to see what the mysterious person wanted.
The figure in the darkness turned out to be a homeless veteran, who was panhandling close by when he noticed someone having car trouble. He introduced himself as Johnny Bobbit, a college graduate who later joined the military and struggled financially and emotionally upon his return.
It is difficult for many veterans to find a job, and some are likely to turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with their declining mental health, which is how Johnny ended up on the streets. When he learned that Kate was in trouble, he offered to use his only $20 bill to get her some new gas.
Kate was incredibly grateful for his random act of kindness and was amazed that a person who had so little would still give it up to help somebody else. Thanks to Johnny, she could get home safely that night.
Kate insisted on coming back the next day with her boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, to thank Johnny and bring him a few supplies to keep him warm and fed through the rough winter months. They gave him blankets, food, clothes, and a little bit of cash.
Still, the couple felt that they hadn’t done enough yet to truly repay Johnny and show him their appreciation, so they set up a page on the website GoFundMe to collect money for their new friend. Their target goal was $10,000, but they had soon received $400,000 in donations!
Johnny could not believe his eyes and ears when he learned that his story had touched so many hearts and that people all over the world were trying to help him. He had gone “viral” and even appeared on a few radio and TV shows to express his gratitude.
As Kate and Mark grew closer with Johnny, they learned that he was from North Carolina, that he had dreams of becoming a nurse, and that he was once engaged to the love of his life. He moved to Philly for a job opportunity, but lost the job and his fiancée.
The couple created a plan for Johnny and his new money. He got a makeover, a place to stay, and a trust fund set up so that he wouldn’t be able to spend all his money on drugs. He was promised an apartment, a Ford Ranger, and a donation to other services for veterans. However, things did not turn out that way…
Kate and Mark did give Johnny a place to live, but instead of getting his own apartment, he stayed in a trailer on the McClures’ property. They did get him a car, but it was old and broke down soon after. Everything remained in Kate’s name.
The couple gave Johnny $25,000 in cash, enough to live comfortably for 2-3 months, but within 2 weeks he had spent it all. As a drug addict, he couldn’t help but use the money to buy drugs. Still, he wanted to recover, and with the last of his cash, he bought boxes of Suboxone, a prescription drug to treat addiction.
After Johnny’s bender, he was asked to leave the property, and Kate and Mark sold the trailer. With nowhere to turn, Johnny was soon back on the streets. There was still a big chunk of GoFundMe money left unspent, but he had no access to it now, forcing him to file a lawsuit against his former friends.
In the lawsuit, which was filed late August 2018, Johnny accused Kate and Mark of using the collected GoFundMe money. He didn’t want to take legal action initially since the couple did help him at first and he didn’t want to seem ungrateful, but he knew it was the only way he’d ever see his money again.
The couple denied using Johnny’s money to buy themselves a BMW and fund several vacations to California, Florida, and Las Vegas. They also claim that they gave Johnny at least $200,000, rather than the $25,000 he said he received.
Still, there is evidence that suggests Johnny was telling the truth. There are photos of Kate and Mark on several luxury vacations and even some of them gambling, while neither of them received a notable increase in their salary.
As a result of the accusations made in the lawsuit and the circumstantial evidence found on the web, the Florence Township Police Department launched a criminal investigation into the lives of the young couple and the fund that was originally set up for Johnny.
The couple’s house has since been raided and their pricey new car has been taken into evidence. They were also given a deadline to surrender the last of the money, but according to Johnny’s attorney, there is practically nothing left of it.
Once again homeless and penniless, Johnny is unsure if he will ever see the money or his former rescuers again. At least his fame might be able to help him: he has already received several small new donations, and GoFundMe itself has promised to gift him the money if it turns out he was telling the truth.
If Johnny’s allegations against Kate and Mark turn out to be true, it goes to show that money can turn even those with good intentions to greediness and even crime. Meanwhile, the investigation is still on-going.
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