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Donors to once-homeless veteran's family seek their money back, saying they were misled

Donors to Homeless Veteran's Family Ask for Money Back

EVERETT - The community rallied around a disabled veteran and his homeless family with cash donations and home supplies, but then many of the contributors asked for their money back.

"I am 40 years old. I spent 15 years and four tours in Iraq. If I had money given to me, why would I have another grown adult tell me how to spend it?" asked disabled vet Eric Wells, alluding to those donors who were upset at how the family was spending the money.

Wells, his wife, Nicole, and their three children were homeless and living on the streets of Everett a few weeks ago. Their belongings were in a shopping cart. A woman driving by snapped a photo of them and posted it on the Snohomich County Crime and Community Facebook page.

Wells said he lost his job a few years ago and was evicted from his home after he couldn't pay the rent. He hasn't been able to find work in years and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and knee and back problems.

When their plight received media attention, the community rallied around them. A gofundme.com page was set up and donations poured in.

Within 24 hours after a Q13 FOX News story aired about the family, the Wells family moved into an apartment and the veteran got a job with a towing company.

Dozens of people wanted to help, including Daniel Roehl

"All we wanted to do is get the three kids off the street," he said. "It was to make sure the kids had a place to live, a stable place to live, for long term."

Some of those who donated say the want refunds now, after learning the Wells planned to use the money to pay for Nicole's U.S. visa (she's a German citizen) rather than for housing costs.

"The funding is supposed to go to us for whatever we want to use it for, for whatever we want household-wise, and it was never the case that it was supposed to be for rent purposes only," Nicole said.

Roehl insists the only intention for the donations was to keep the family safe. "All these people got involved in their lives to make their lives better" and get them into a home, he said.

But, he added, "When they (the Wells) requested the money go toward her being a U.S. citizen, that's not why we did it. That would be a separate issue."

The Wells family said they're getting by, donations or not.

It's believed donations from the gofundme account were returned as of Wednesday night.

To see our earlier story, click here.

Join the discussion

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aztlanqueen August 15 2014 at 6:09 AM

They never "asked" for the money, someone caught wind of their situation & people gave money. So, its okay to keep the kids in an apt, mom gets deported, dad cant work because mom isn't there to watch the children...but thats okay with you critics. Obviously these same critics have their heads in the sand because they have no idea what really goes on in the world around them...a lot of homeless persons, ARE VETS! What selfish, ignorant people...

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21 replies
Practical Nomad August 15 2014 at 7:58 AM

If you personally decide to donate money to assist somebody, that's the end of it. If you want to control distribution of every cent donated, than create a Trust. He's returned the donated funds which is something he didn't have to do. Does everyone who donated feel better about it, and themselves now? What good "Christians" you are.

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9 replies
Jo August 15 2014 at 6:53 AM

Good grief, she wants to be here legally and people are offended yet scream to send all the illegal homes.

Once legal she will be able to work and contribute in keeping their kids off the street.

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10 replies
mnbkny August 15 2014 at 9:58 AM

"News AOL: Community flabbergasted by veteran's lie"

What lie? Nowhere in the article or video does it say the veteran lied about anything. If anything, some donors appear to be angry because he was HONEST about where the money was going.

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2 replies
theomegaman72 mnbkny August 15 2014 at 1:24 PM

The donors gave the money in good faith, under the assumption that a homeless family and kids were desperate and needed the basics--food,clothing and shelter. So when they broke wind of how it really was being used, they felt misled or tricked.The fact that they wanted their money back reflects that.

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2 replies
mnbkny theomegaman72 August 15 2014 at 1:42 PM

Yep. Understood all of that from the start. My question remains: How does donors being wrong in their assumption (right or wrong) translate into the headline "Community flabbergasted by veteran's lie"?

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userpat7248 theomegaman72 August 15 2014 at 1:44 PM

They wanted to controll how that money was used. Big differnce in giving something to someone and telling them how it is to be used or you want it back. Shame on these people..

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delightfuldollsdelightfuldsolls mnbkny August 15 2014 at 1:55 PM

The 'NEWS' did not report all of the 'FACTS". That is the sad part. None of the nasty text messages were posted. The 'community' has already given them thousands of dollars in clothes and food and furniture. One child was given a scooter....which the mother called and said was stolen the first night and the child was heartbroken. So another member took her a well taken care of but USED scooter the next day....and the mother was disgusted! She called if the FOUR YEAR OLD was out of pullups (YES---FOUR YARS OLD!!!) and her brand was delivered. This family received amazing help....but became very greedy very quickly....and sent multitudes of negative texts to many people....including..."the jokes on YOU!"

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2 replies
oldguy delightfuldollsdelightfuldsolls August 15 2014 at 2:44 PM

Thank you for the update.I too had many unanswered questions about the real story.

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Dave delightfuldollsdelightfuldsolls August 15 2014 at 2:46 PM

May be 4 years old. But when you have nothing you get accustomed to making due with what you can find. Think first!

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ranger197172 August 15 2014 at 5:45 AM

Why was a disabled vet homeless ? Disabled vets get disability from VA. Sounds like poor planning on his part and a dishonor to veterans in general.

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10 replies
christine August 15 2014 at 8:41 AM

You can't give and then ask for it back. When you give something you give it.

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1 reply
delightfuldollsdelightfuldsolls christine August 15 2014 at 2:01 PM

This was a fund set up to take care of this family. They were never 'given' any of this cash and that was never the intent. It was set up to HELP this family.....not as a free pass to go on a spending spree. They turned down having a year's rent paid in advance. RED FLAGS!!! RED FLAGS!!! This was to help homeless children be able to stay off the streets....not for spending sprees for Mom and Dad.

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2 replies
katkelly57 delightfuldollsdelightfuldsolls August 15 2014 at 3:41 PM

Free rent for a year is very generous for sure....I don't think it was wise at all to turn that offer down.

I'm wondering if there is a substance abuse problem due to the PTSD....that would answer many questions.

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d1anaw delightfuldollsdelightfuldsolls August 15 2014 at 7:49 PM

I definitely agree. This would have immediately set me on the alert. If anyone offered to pay for my rent for a year, I wouldn't be able to say hell yes fast enough. Most people would.

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ranger197172 August 15 2014 at 5:46 AM

If whitfiend is mentally disabled then that is a 100% disability which would entitle him to disability pay of around 3k a month. I am a disabled vet and have no sympathy for him.

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4 replies
autounionbailout August 15 2014 at 6:04 AM


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11 replies
puzzie.eater August 15 2014 at 6:22 AM

IF I were the JUDGE I would'nt give you people a DAMN thing- I would LOL and call you STUPID AMERICAN SUCKERS as STUPID AMERICAN DO-GOODERS really LIKE the SPOTLIGHT- they GIVE looking for FAME- they NEVER INVESTIGATE- People are FOOLS and deserve what they get- HA HA HA Has NOTHING to do with BUSH and he IS looking for a HAND OUT- being HOMELESS is HIS fault- should'nt have had any KIDS- he is a USER and a LIAR!!! The GREAT MR BUSH had nothing to do with it- that GD OBAMA has screwed it ALL up!

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9 replies
patriot1too August 15 2014 at 6:45 AM

This story reminds us of all the divorced single so called moms who exploit the father and his child for unearned income and spends all that money on herself and his child and himself suffers from her greed. Millions of them are doing it. Shameless.

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