Search For Fundraiser Theft Suspect Continues

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MCADOO -- The search for a suspect continues in Schuylkill County after someone stole money from a fundraiser helping the family of a girl killed in a fire.

Investigators are asking anyone who might have information into the theft that happened over the weekend in McAdoo to come forward. So far there are no suspects in the stolen donations meant for the family of the 6-year-old girl.

Police told us over the weekend, they had a possible suspect in the theft of cash raised at a fundraiser for the family of little Madison Arner. Investigators now tell us that person has been cleared.

Organizers of the benefit estimate around $1,000 was stolen from the back of a minivan and police are still trying to find out who did it.

As police look for a suspect, firefighter Nick Yatsula looked for any missing gear at the Keystone Volunteer fire Company in McAdoo where Saturday's benefit was held.  Yatsula figured if someone could steal from a fundraiser for a 6-year-old fire victim's family, they could steal from anyone.

"It's disgusting. It's unfathomable how someone could do this.  It's just lowlifes."

The theft happened during an all-day benefit Saturday in honor of little Madison Arner. She died after a fire in McAdoo last month.

Organizers now believe around $1,000 meant for Madison's family was taken from the back of a minivan. The news is a shock for everyone who attended the event.

"There was more people here than I thought, it was tremendous, really.  I thought everyone was getting along good here and I never expected anything like that to happen," said John Perhonitch.

While the family lost so much in this fire and the latest theft just added to their hardships, they're not holding the actions of one against the good coming from this whole community.

"It is so amazing. My sister is 7, even people she didn't know, how many people she touched.  It just meant a lot for people to come out and support us when we need it," said Chastity Reed, Madison's sister.

The fire victim's sister says the thought that someone could steal money meant for her family really hurts, but they're trying not to focus on the bad.MADISONARNER

"It wasn't about the money at all.  They did the benefit so it was a place for my family and community to come together and celebrate Madison's life, to be happy she was here with us for the time that she was."

Organizers of the fundraiser say despite the theft, it still raised quite a bit for the family.

"We had an hour of horror.  It did go on through the night, but everyone regrouped and went back to the reason we were there to support the family and raise money," said event organizer Jennifer Wesner.

Organizers of the fundraiser say this theft won't stop them. They're hoping to continue the Fly High with Madison events to help the little girl's family but they plan to take more precautions to protect any donated money from now on.

If you know anything about the theft, call McAdoo police.