Man accused of stealing donation jar for cancer-stricken girl arrested

Credit: Rock Hill Police Department.

Johnny Ray Kendricks.

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by TONY BURBECK / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @TonyWCNC

WCNC.com

Posted on January 17, 2013 at 6:28 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 17 at 7:54 PM

ROCK HILL, S.C. -- A man wanted for stealing a donation jar meant for a 14-year-old girl battling cancer has been arrested and charged with the crime.

The theft happened last summer at Scott's Food Store in Rock Hill.

Surveillance video captured a man stealing the jar and placing it in a bucket of water so nobody would hear it.  The jar had about $150 in it for Emily Elkins, who is battling a cancer which attacks her muscles.

Police say the man stealing the money is 50-year-old Johnny Ray Kendricks.  They arrested Kendricks Wednesday for shoplifting at another store and connected him to the donation jar theft.
Customer Lois Smith donates to the Elkins family regularly.

"She seems to be a very sweet child," Smith said.  "Just couldn't imagine anybody doing that, stooping that low."

"It was low, and it was ungrateful," said Emily's dad Paul Elkins.

He says the theft hurt him a bit.  He says part of him forgives Kendrick, but part of him hopes he gets what he deserves.  A judge ordered a $120,000 bond for Kendricks during his initial appearance.

He says Emily stayed positive because one of her best attributes is believing in the good in everyone. 

"Maybe he needed it more than she did," Elkins said, referring to how Emily first responded to the crime.

A dad's intuition says it hurt his daughter too.

"But she never showed it, never showed being hurt by it," Elkins said.  "She said, ‘I'm glad they caught him dad, but it's time to move on now.’"

The donation jar is still at the store, only now it's attached to a hook so no one can steal it.

Smith still puts in her dollar because Emily is still sick.

She started another round of chemotherapy Thursday.

That treatment lasts five days, but there's a smile coming on the 6.

"She's going to the Justin Bieber concert," Elkins said.

Nurses at the hospital, plus someone donating money for a limo ride to the concert, made it possible, Elkins said.

Overall, the family has received about $20,000 dollars from jar donations and fundraisers.  

They use the money to pay bills and the cost of repeated trips from Rock Hill to Charlotte for Emily's treatment.
 

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