News 12 at 6 o'clock / Friday, Oct. 18, 2013
AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW) -- Kendra Lachell Morris wants her name cleared.
"I really have no words to say," she tells News 12. "It's crazy."
Morris says the woman arrested on Wednesday for allegedly scamming drivers in South Aiken stole her identity. Breast cancer ribbons dotted the posters the two suspects allegedly held here near the Whiskey Road Walmart. In just about an hour, the two collected around $664 to pay for their mother's funeral. Aiken Public Safety says investigators determined the scheme was a scam.
"We spoke with both individuals involved by separate officers, and each individual gave us a separate name of who was deceased and a different funeral home for the person who was allegedly deceased," says Detective Jeremy Hembree. "This was a scam where these individuals were just standing on the side of the road taking people's money."
The woman arrested told officer her name was Kendra Lachell Morris. Officers now say that was also a lie. The real Morris says she's left with a damaged reputation.
"It's been crazy to wake up and to see your name on the news and like see somebody else's face, and it's like, 'Why?'" she says. "Her name is not Kendra Morris. It's LeBrooke Smith."
News 12 searched for a 'LeBrooke Smith' and found her Twitter account. On Wednesday, the day officers say the two suspects were allegedly scamming the Aiken donors, the user bragged about getting money.
Followers chimed in.
"U in jail right now & we know it," one shot back.
News 12 also found three picture showing off stacks of cash, even one where Smith was presumably shown with wads of cash stuffed in her tank top.
"Money, money, money," the caption reads.
"I was leaving my house going to my parents house and turning from Wrightsboro Road and North Leg and seen them standing on the corner, one on each corner, on each side of the road, and just holding up their signs," says James Koone of Augusta.
Koone is convinced he's seen the two before, just two weeks ago. He says the posters were almost identical, pink ribbons and all.
"I've known people who have suffered from breast cancer, and they still fight with it and had 17 year battles with it," he tells News 12. "To see somebody that would exploit it like, that just makes you sick to your stomach."
After a fingerprint analysis, the Aiken Department of Public Safety determined LeBrooke Smith is the actual suspect. She'll now have the possibility of more prison time. Officers tacked on an identity fraud charge. She's already charged with soliciting without a license and obtaining money by false pretenses.
LeBrooke Smith has been in jail before. In 2011, records show she was found guilty of battery and theft by taking in Richmond County. Last year, she was also convicted of shoplifting from Walmart.
Smith, and her alleged accomplice Zachary Sims, remain incarcerated in the Aiken County Detention Center.
Investigators began receiving CrimeStoppers tips and calls from local media after the community recognized the individual arrested had used someone else’s name.
Anyone with any further information is asked to contact CrimeStoppers of the Midlands at 888-CRIME-SC (888-274-6372). Callers will remain anonymous and could be eligible for a cash reward of up to $1000.