Woman admits to lying about not getting Red Cross assistance after house fire

MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin (WITI) -- There have been plenty of questions and controversy this week swirling around a family that claimed the American Red Cross did nothing to help them after a house fire back in December. FOX6 spoke exclusively with the woman behind the lies who explains why the situation spiraled out of control.

"This is something serious I never knew it was going to get this far," Latressa Turner said.

Recognizing the ramifications...

"I just had to realize to myself it's not going to get me nowhere," Turner said.

Latressa Turner has finally made the decision to come clean.

"Did you get a card, a debit card from the Red Cross?" FOX6's Derica Williams asked. "Yes, to be honest I did," Turner said.

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Evacuees Tanda Jacobs and Dave Jacobs of the Sycamore Canyon area receive food at dinner time from Salvation Army at the American Red Cross Santa Barbara County Chapter Emergency Shelter at San Marcos High School in Santa Barbara, California, November 14, 2008. A wildfire burned through the area forcing thousands to evacuate in Santa Barbara County including residents of the Montecito. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok (UNITED STATES)
Evacuees leave the American Red Cross Santa Barbara County Chapter Emergency Shelter at San Marcos High School while trying to find a place for their dogs in Santa Barbara, California, November 14, 2008. A wildfire burned through the area forcing thousands to evacuate in Santa Barbara County including residents of the Montecito. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok (UNITED STATES)
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Her honesty comes only after the Red Cross was called out in the community for failing to serve the victims.

"It made me feel bad because I lied to the news and stuff," Turner said. "It made me feel bad for the Red Cross people."

Turner is now feeling remorse after making claims the Red Cross turned her away after she lost everything in a house fire near 21st and Concordia.

Her statements proved untrue when FOX6 News received documents from the Red Cross national office showing Turner was given a debit card for several hundred dollars the day her home went up in flames.

"They talked to me and they gave me a card, but they didn't give me a lot what I expected," Turner said.

There was around $545 on the debit card.

"I spent it on my son's clothes and stuff," Turner said.

The paper trail confirmed the card is now empty. What is also lacking is some people's trust in Turner.

"Why did you lie to begin with?" Williams asked.

"Because these people told me just lie about it and just see what they're gonna do," Turner replied.

"What made you think that was good idea?" Williams asked.

"To be honest, I don't know. It's not helping me at all," Turner said.

And to the community members who rallied with donations...

"I apologize. I thank you for the help I'm sorry for lying to you guys too," Turner said.

"What are you plans for the GoFundMe page?" Williams asked.

"They can have all the money back," Turner replied.

She plans to make returns and a visit to the Red Cross to help right her wrongs.

"I'm going to go up there probably Monday, to apologize to them and talk to them," Turner said.

Meanwhile, the organization responded and despite it all, they say they are just going to continue to help everyone who needs it.

The Red Cross released the following statement on Saturday, January 6th:

"The American Red Cross is pleased that after several days of misinformation, the facts regarding Red Cross support for Ms. Turner are now being made known to the public. As we are a charity that depends on the American people for financial donations to provide help after home fires and other disasters, we would like to reiterate that we provide support to all affected by home fires in Milwaukee, and we will continue to do so."

FOX6 reached out to GoFundMe, they say the family has been paid a portion of the funds. However, they say donors are fully protected. So far, they have not received any refund requests in this case.

Community activist, Tory Lowe, who stood by Turner's claims since the beginning, took to Facebook Live on the incident:

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