On Your Side Investigation Update: Ozarks couple charged with stealing from pet lovers
LEBANON, Mo. (KY3) - Following an On Your Side Investigation, a couple in Lebanon is now charged with stealing from pet lovers.
Jordan and James Donelson are accused of pocketing pet deposits and leaving customers without their promised puppies.
“Investigative journalism played a huge role,” said Kacie Springer, Detective Sergeant with the Lebanon Police Department.
She saw the On Your Side Investigation in February about customers claiming they were ripped off while trying to buy pets from Jordan and James Donelson over Facebook.
You might remember, Melissa Hern planned to get her daughter a little Chihuahua. They saw photos and paid the $100 deposit. Then could not reach Jordan Donelson.
Melissa is just one of about a dozen customers who reached out to On Your Side. Detective Springer received a complaint in April and got to work.
“A lot of people don’t think these crimes are solvable, but they are. You just have to do the leg work and the digging. They are solvable. We were able to obtain a search warrant to Facebook and locate all the other victims via Facebook," said Springer.
Detective Springer believes there’s about sixty people who had a deal gone wrong with the Donelsons. She questioned the couple.
On Your Side obtained those court documents which read:
Jordan admitted that she has done it and done it a lot and that it is a bad addiction where she felt like she had to do it.
“It didn’t surprise me that she said she had an addiction because she has been doing this for so long. I think somebody with an addiction should seek some kind of counseling or help to get over these kinds of addictions that way they don’t continue to victimize people,” said Springer.
On Your Side went to the Donelson’s house for comment. No one came to the door. Ashley Reynolds left a note. A few hours later Jordan called her. She declined an on camera interview and said she doesn’t recall being questioned by police.
The Lebanon Police Department gave On Your Side images from when they were questioned.
Both Jordan and James each face one felony charge for stealing. They have not entered a plea. Their arraignment is next month.
Detective Springer says it’s an ongoing investigation and hopes more victims will come forward.
If you’re looking to buy a pet on Facebook, do these things:
- Before you send money, see the animal in person. Or ask the seller to video chat with you and show the dog. So you know it’s real.
- Ask for vet and registration records.
- Be wary of sellers who only want payments that are nonrefundable or are hard to trace.
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