JSO: Woman steals donation jar meant for family of slain 7-year-old

Donations stolen to support suspect's 'crack cocaine addiction,' police say

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A woman caught on a Jacksonville restaurant’s surveillance video taking a donation jar intended for the family of a slain 7-year-old girl told police she did so to support her drug habit, authorities said Saturday.

Tammy Wynnell Crews, 46, was booked Saturday into the Duval County jail, where she remains in custody on charges of felony grand theft and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia. 

The arrest came hours after the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office posted surveillance video on social media showing a woman swipe a donation jar containing $600 from the counter of Tapatio Restaurant on 103rd Street.

WATCH: Woman caught on camera taking donation jar

The donations were intended for the family of Heydi Rivas Villanueva, who was shot and killed Aug. 11 in the parking lot of the strip mall where the restaurant is located.

She was caught in the crossfire of a shootout between three men, police said. All three have been arrested in the case. A memorial is growing at the strip mall in honor of the little girl.

Pastor Ronnie Cucuta, the leader of a Spanish church just feet away from where the shooting happened, was among community members who left money in the jar to support Heydi's family.

"We are working with them spiritually. Matter of fact, they were here in our church last night. A lot of crying between them -- hugging and crying," he said. 

According to the Sheriff's Office, the theft occurred Thursday, but staff at the restaurant did not report it to police until the following day when they realized the donations were gone.

Once the video made its rounds on social media Saturday, police got a tip that Crews was the woman seen in the clip. She was spotted and detained along 103rd Street shortly after 3 p.m.

Police said Crews was arrested after acknowledging taking the donations and using the money to "support her crack cocaine addiction." A crack pipe was recovered during the arrest.

"I can’t judge anybody," Cucuta said. "I would tell her to repent of herself and try to get this peace with God."

At her first appearance Sunday morning, Crews was ordered held on $10,000 bond.

About the Authors:

A Jacksonville native and proud University of North Florida alum, Francine Frazier has been with News4Jax since 2014 after spending nine years at The Florida Times-Union.