Hempfield woman charged with stealing from baby’s funeral fund
About $600 donated for the funeral expenses of a 10-month-old boy allegedly was stolen by a friend of the baby’s mother, according to a Westmoreland County detective.
Kristi J. Reno, 30, of Hempfield was charged Friday with misdemeanor counts of theft by deception and receiving stolen property.
A phone number could not be located for Reno.
Brennon Everett died Sept. 3 as a result of abusive head trauma, according to Cambria County court documents in a homicide case against the boy’s stepmother.
The boy’s biological mother, Rebecca Everett of Jeannette, reported suspicions to Detective Tom Horan concerning an online donation account that Reno set up after Brennon’s death.
The account on gofundme.com raised $1,360 on Brennon’s behalf, according to court documents.
Everett told investigators on Sept. 18 that she was unaware until three days prior that Reno had created the fund. Everett requested that Reno forward all of the donations to Mason-Gelder Funeral Home in Jeannette for expenses associated with Brennon’s September funeral.
“Kristi then advised Rebecca that she had already spent some of the money on Kristi’s personal bills and was still awaiting an additional check …,” Horan wrote in a criminal complaint.
A search warrant showed that Reno created the account on Aug. 30 with her email address.
Horan alleges that the following withdrawals totaling $1,241.51 were made by Reno:
• $589.86 on Sept. 2.
• $379.23 on Sept. 4.
• $54.07 on Sept. 5.
• $45.15 on Sept. 6.
• $105.02 on Sept. 7.
• $13.52 on Sept. 8.
• $8.91 on Sept. 10.
• $45.75 on Sept. 12.
Everett told Horan she was unaware of the withdrawals.
Reno reported to Horan that she spent $637.99 on funeral-related expenses, leaving $603.52 unaccounted for, according to the complaint.
“She was unsure as to how much was collected and unsure how much she received,” Horan wrote in the complaint.
A preliminary hearing is set for Dec. 11 before District Judge Joseph DeMarchis.
Johnstown police have charged Hayley Nichole Butler, 23, in connection with Brennon’s death. She told investigators that she was the only adult home on Aug. 15 when she claimed the boy fell and became unresponsive, according to an affidavit of probable cause.
Brennon was living with Butler and his father, Shawn Hill, 28, formerly of Jeannette, in a Johnstown home.
Butler’s statements are inconsistent with the findings of multiple medical exams, which indicated Brennon’s death was a result of abusive head trauma, police allege. Brennon was in a coma from Aug. 15 until his death. His injuries included a split lip, bruising around both eyes and in the middle of his forehead, two rib fractures, brain bleeding, excessive fluid on his brain and abrasions around his eyes. He had multiple fractures that were healing, police said.
Butler is being held in the Cambria County Jail without bond on charges of homicide, aggravated assault and child endangerment. A Nov. 21 preliminary hearing is set.
Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or [email protected].