MARION COUNTY, Fla. - The Marion County Sheriff’s Office says a 14-year-old student at Lake Weir Middle School broke into her grandparents’ safe and stole about $13,500 in cash – half her grandmother’s life savings left over after she’d sold her house. Then, the sheriff’s office says the girl started handing the cash out to people at school.
Parents got a voicemail from Lake Weir Middle School’s principal about that incident Thursday, asking the adults to give their kids a call. Michelle Spaulding obliged.
"That’s when she was like, ‘Yeah, mom! The child did come up to me and ask me if I wanted $100,'" said Spaulding. "And she said, ‘No, it’s got to be stolen, I don’t want nothing to do with it.’"
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Since Spaulding got that call, this has turned into a criminal investigation.
"I really hope it gets recovered, because that’s so devastating. I feel really bad for the family," said Spaulding.
The girl accused of stealing the money told deputies a friend who’d moved away gave it to her to hand out. Students who accepted the money told deputies the girl claimed it was her grandmother’s money, and she had permission to give it away.
Some students didn’t buy that story and reported it to administrators and the school resource officer. Spaudling says her daughter told her she doesn't know the girl who offered her money.
"She’s never seen the kid at all. Which I thought was even more shocking."
The young girl is now facing felony charges for grand theft. She was arrested Friday morning and given a $2,000 bond.
Deputies and officials at the school are trying to get the money back. They found around $2,500 left in the teenager's backpack. One student handed in $200 and at least one other brought $500 back to the front office. The Sheriff's Office and school officials are asking parents to check with their kids to see if they received any of the stolen money.