Clearwater, FL – A Florida mother who made a heartbreaking plea for donations in the wake of her infant son’s sudden death has confessed to having murdered him, police said.
Victoria Grace Jackson, 24, launched the fundraising campaign just days after the death of her 10-month-old son, Malachi, Gray News reported.
Jackson originally told investigators that she woke up on May 24 to find the little boy “unresponsive” in his crib, the Clearwater Police Department said in a Facebook post on Nov. 1.
She called 911, and Malachi was rushed to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Police did not initially find any evidence to contradict Jackson’s account of what occurred, but continued to investigate the little boy’s death in the months that followed, Clearwater Police Department (CPD) spokesperson Rob Shaw told the paper.
Meanwhile, Jackson started a GoFundMe page to help pay for the cost of her son’s funeral, Gray News reported.
She set the goal at $5,000.
“I want to give my son the best memorial service I can,” the fundraising page read. “We don’t know what the cause is yet, I woke up and he wasn’t breathing and had bloody foam coming from his nose. I’ve never been so heart broken in my life. Please help me take care of my baby one last time.”
Over 100 people donated a total of $4,393 to the cause, Gray News reported.
But on Oct. 30, one of Jackson’s friends reached out to police and told them that Jackson confessed she had smothered Malachi to death with a pillow.
Jackson incriminated herself in a phone call recorded by investigators, and later confessed to police that she murdered her baby boy as he was sleeping, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Investigators also noted that Jackson made suicidal statements after the confession, and that she was potentially suffering from mental health issues.
Jackson was booked into the Pinellas County Jail, and has been charged with first-degree murder, according to the CPD.
The GoFundMe page was removed on Nov. 2, People reported.
The company has already begun issuing refunds to the donors who contributed to Jackson’s fundraising campaign, according to Gray News.
Marah Gonzales said that she went to high school with Jackson, and that she was one of the donors who contributed to the fund, WTXL reported.
“Tragedy is a time where you need to be the most compassionate and loving and kind and she totally just took advantage of that,” Gonzales told the news outlet. “No one knew the real story of what happened other than her and whatever friend that she told.”
“It was just kind of so manipulative to the point she was consistently reaching out and consistently like please donate to this,” she added.