News 2 viewers send money to 91-year-old tricked out of thousands

Photo: WKRN
Photo: WKRN

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A 91-year-old woman received an unexpected gift from a News 2 viewer after alleged thieves stole close to 3,000 from her for a roofing job that never happened.

Last week, News 2 told you about Mary Ballinger, an East Nashville resident who was approached by two people claiming to have done roof work at her home.

Metro police said the two suspects coerced Ballinger into writing a check for work that was never performed.

After our story aired, News 2 viewers Jake and Leslie Griner did something wonderful, writing a heartfelt letter and check to the woman in care of our newsroom.

Metro police are seeking Jessica Burton in this case. (Courtesy: Metro Nashville Police Department)
Metro police are seeking Jessica Burton in this case. (Courtesy: Metro Nashville Police Department)

The check from the mother and son was for $200.

According to Metro fraud detectives, it all started in late October when a woman now identified as Jessica Burton cashed a $2,800 check for roofing work that was never done.

“That money is gone, I’m too trustful of people to tell you the truth,” 91 Ballinger told News 2 last week.

“It broke my heart that someone would take advantage of this sweet woman especially at her age,” said Leslie Griner. “She had so much grace and courage to come on TV and warn other people.”

On the memo line of the check sent to News 2, they simply wrote: “gift of love. No conditions, no expectations, we just wanted to show her there are people out there who could love you.”

“My goodness, how nice, that’s wonderful, wonderful people,” said Ballinger.

Metro fraud detectives told News 2 they are still seeking Jessica Burton in the case.

She was arrested for a similar crime a few months ago, charged with cashing a 78-year-old woman’s check for $6,500 for driveway work never performed.

The metro affidavit said, “the defendant is involved in a ring / family of scamming elderly on driveways, roofs, etc.”

“I just think they are really wonderful people, they probably help a lot of people,” said Ballinger about the mother and son who offered their help.

If you know the whereabouts of Jessica Burton, you are urged to call the Metro Nashville Fraud Department at 615-880-2929.

News is committed to tracking crime across Middle Tennessee. Visit wkrn.com/crimetracker for the latest.