Cruel hoax on family of cancer victim worsens: Mother fears scammer is stalking family

Thomas Doty died shortly before 20th birthday

SAN DIEGO - The family of a young man who fell victim to a cruel hoax during his final weeks battling cancer now says they are being stalked by the same person.

There was a poignant picture of Thomas Doty smiling down on the memorial service that was held for him three days before Christmas in Maple Valley, Wash. He died of cancer shortly after his 20th birthday.

Thomas was victimized by an Internet scammer: a woman calling herself Jonnica Ellis and claiming to be a nurse who wanted to donate a quarter of a million dollars to help with his treatment.

However, it was a hoax. The money never materialized and the young man's mother worries that the scammer is now a stalker.

"We came home a couple of nights ago and our door was kicked in," said Tiffany Doty, Thomas' mother. "Nothing taken… it was just kicked in and I just don't see that that's a coincidence."

Doty said there have been continuing emails from Ellis even after her son's death.

"I filed a police report," she told 10News. "I want the FBI to get involved."

The theory is that Ellis was obsessed with "Deadliest Catch" TV star Johnathan Hillstrand and she targeted the Doty family after he made a video plea for donations.

The Dotys came to San Diego for two months last fall seeking treatment at a holistic medicine center in Valley Center, but Thomas was lost. His mother lays blame on Ellis, whose promises caused them to delay treatment until too late.

"When he passed away I had nothing, nothing, nothing to do," said Doty. "I don't know what I'm doing anymore and ... so anything I can do for him and this is something he asked specifically – was that she not be able to do this to anybody else."

San Diego clinical psychologist Michael Mantell told 10News the scammer is probably either psychotic or someone with an anti-social personality.

"Someone with such severe fantasies of control, of power, of hate... and yet at the same time, of loneliness and emptiness inside of herself that she can't do it face to face," said Mantell.

Should they feel threatened? Mantell thinks so.

"I believe there is reason to worry," he said. "People like this don't stop until they're caught."

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