Homelessness is a common problem among veterans in America. They often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), have difficulty adjusting to civilian life and must find employment in an already competitive labour market without relevant recent experience. Although many organizations have formed to help these veterans, many continue to go unnoticed and end up on the street.
In October 2017, a young woman from Philadelphia, Kate McClure, found herself in an unexpected emergency situation. When a homeless veteran came to her rescue, she and her boyfriend were extremely grateful to this man. The couple’s efforts to repay the man, however, quickly became a vicious circle that eventually turned them into enemies… Here is the surprising story of this itinerant!
1. Holiday photos always look happy, but appearances can be deceiving.
The couple on the right has been very kind to the man on the left, but this story does not have a happy ending as this picture suggests.
2. It all started with a mundane incident.
Kate McClure, a 20-year-old woman, ran out of gas on the I-95 highway in Philadelphia and had to stop her car. She had no money and her phone battery was dead.
3. From the shadows, a silhouette appeared.
At first, Kate was scared. After all, she was a lonely woman, stranded in a deserted area and a stranger approached her car. She had nowhere to hide, so she waited to see what the mystery person wanted.
4. The character in the dark turned out to be a homeless veteran, begging nearby when he noticed that someone was having car problems.
He introduced himself as Johnny Bobbit, a university graduate who later enlisted in the army and who experienced financial and emotional difficulties upon his return.
5. Many veterans become homeless.
Indeed, it is difficult for many veterans to find employment, and some are likely to turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with their declining mental health, and that is how Johnny ended up on the street. When he learned that Kate was in trouble, he offered to use his only $20 bill to buy her gas.
6. Kate was incredibly grateful for her act of kindness.
She was also surprised that a person with so little money could give it to someone else to help her. Thanks to Johnny, she was able to go home safely that night.
7. Kate went back to see Johnny.
She insisted on coming back the next day with her boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, to thank Johnny and bring him some supplies to keep him warm and nourish him during the difficult winter months. They gave him blankets, food, clothes and some money.
8. Despite everything, the couple felt that they had not yet done enough to really thank Johnny.
To show their gratitude, they created a page on the GoFundMe website to raise money for their new friend. Their goal was $10,000, but they quickly received $400,000 in donations!
9. Johnny couldn’t believe his eyes and ears when he learned that his story had touched so many hearts and that people around the world were trying to help him.
He had become “viral” and had even made appearances in some radio and television shows to express his gratitude.
10. As Kate and Mark got closer to Johnny, they learned more about him.
They learned that he came from North Carolina, that he dreamed of becoming a nurse and that he was once engaged to the love of his life. He moved to Philadelphia for a job opportunity, but he lost his job and his fiancée.
11. The couple created a financial plan for Johnny.
He got a makeover, he found a place to live and a trust fund so he couldn’t spend all his money on drugs. He was promised an apartment, a Ford Ranger and a donation for other services for veterans. However, things did not go as planned…
12. Here’s what happened!
Kate and Mark did give Johnny a place to live, but instead of having his own apartment, he stayed in a trailer on McClures property. They bought her a car, but she was old and broke down soon after. Everything remained in Kate’s name.
13. The couple gave Johnny $25,000 in cash, enough to live comfortably for 2 to 3 months, but in 2 weeks he had spent it all.
Like a drug addict, he couldn’t help but use the money to buy drugs. Yet he wanted to recover, and with the rest of his money, he bought boxes of Suboxone, a prescription drug to treat addiction.
14. After Johnny got drunk, he was asked to leave the property, and Kate and Mark sold the trailer.
With no one to turn to, Johnny quickly returned to the street. Much of GoFundMe’s unspent money was still out there, but he had no access to it, forcing him to sue his former friends.
15. In the lawsuit, which was filed in late August 2018, Johnny accused Kate and Mark of using the money raised by GoFundMe.
At first, he didn’t want to take legal action since the couple had helped him at first and he didn’t want to seem ungrateful, but he knew it was the only way he could ever see his money again.
16. The couple denied using Johnny’s money to buy a BMW and finance several vacations in 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.
17. Yet there is evidence to suggest that Johnny was telling the truth.
There are pictures of Kate and Mark on several luxury vacations and even gambling vacations, while none of them received a significant salary increase…
18. An investigation was therefore launched.
In fact, following the charges laid in the prosecution and circumstantial evidence found on the web, the Florence Township Police Service launched a criminal investigation into the young couple’s life and the fund that was originally created for Johnny.
19. The couple’s house has since been raided by police and their expensive new car has been put to the test.
They were also given a deadline to return the rest of the money, but according to Johnny’s lawyer, there is almost nothing left.
20. Once again homeless and penniless, Johnny doesn’t know if he will ever see the money or his old rescuers again.
At least his notoriety could help him: he has already received several small new donations, and GoFundMe himself has promised to give him the money if it turns out he was telling the truth.
If Johnny’s allegations against Kate and Mark prove true, it shows that money can turn even those with good intentions into greedy and criminals. In the meantime, the investigation is still ongoing.