COLUMBIA, S.C. - A South Carolina woman accused of promising couples she would be their surrogate mother has been charged with bilking at least six people out of $14,000, police said yesterday.
Jessica O'Donnell, 28, used the Internet to lure couples desperate to have children, prosecutors said. She was charged with obtaining money under false pretenses and was being held on $140,000 bail.
According to investigators, O'Donnell told people to send sperm in a plastic cup and use ice packs and a cooler to preserve the fluids. She said she would then have a friend who is a nurse inseminate her.
She claimed to be a nurse, and told them her husband, a soldier, had been killed in Iraq, authorities said. Police found several coolers at her home in Hodges, about 80 miles northwest of Columbia.
O'Donnell's husband, Daniel, 28, also has been charged with obtaining money under false pretenses, said Maj. John Murray of the Greenwood County Sheriff's Office. He was scheduled to be arraigned Thursday.
"They were just ripping these poor people's hearts out," Murray said. "She admitted what she was doing and said she knew it was wrong."
According to police, victims were from Tennessee, New York, Alabama, Minnesota and Pennsylvania, but their names were not released. They told police they connected with O'Donnell through an Internet site. *