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GoFundMe for Quakertown family killed in fire taken down due to scams and harassment

The fund-raiser set up after the Christmas Day blaze that tore through the King family home, killing a father and two of his sons, had raised more than $600,000.

Eric and Kristin King of Quakertown are seen with sons Liam, Patrick, and Brady. Eric, Liam and Patrick died in a Christmas house fire.
Eric and Kristin King of Quakertown are seen with sons Liam, Patrick, and Brady. Eric, Liam and Patrick died in a Christmas house fire.Read moreFamily photo

A GoFundMe that raised more than $600,000 for a Quakertown family who lost a father and two young sons in a deadly blaze was taken down after the organizer dealt with harassment and scam fund-raisers.

On Christmas morning, a fire tore through the King family home, killing Eric King, 41, and his sons, Patrick, 8, and Liam, 11. King’s oldest son, Brady, 13, and his wife, Kristin, were treated at a local hospital and released.

Quakertown Fire Marshal Douglas Wilhelm said the fire will be ruled accidental and investigators believe it was caused by a live Christmas tree that went up in flames.

He said the investigation will continue for some time as investigators try to determine how the flames spread so quickly, an effort that’s proved challenging “because there’s so much destruction.”

Following the deadly fire, Kristin Randazzo, a family friend, organized a GoFundMe for the King family, raising $608,970 as of Sunday night. The fund-raiser, which described the couple as high school sweethearts, had far surpassed its initial goal but was shut down Sunday night after Randazzo received threatening emails and at least one scam fund-raiser was created.

“She received some really awful nasty threatening emails,” Sarah Thiel, Eric King’s sister, told The Inquirer. “Not just one, but many. We all made the decision to pull it.”

A GoFundMe spokesperson confirmed that Randazzo’s fund-raiser was legitimate and that the company had already shut down one scam fund-raiser that had not raised any money.

“When a fund-raiser is created to support another individual, funds are safely held and only transferred to the recipient of the fund-raiser,” the spokesperson said. “In this case, our Trust & Safety team will work closely with the fund-raiser organizer and to ensure funds safely reach the King family.”

Randazzo did not immediately respond to a Facebook message but posted on the GoFundMe why she shut the fund-raiser down.

“Due to people creating fake GoFundMe pages with the same picture and receiving some insensitive and extremely rude emails and comments, we have decided to stop accepting donations through GoFundMe at this time,” Randazzo wrote.

Thiel said that Randazzo, who was good friends with Kristin and Eric, set up the fund-raiser to help the family and it was initially met with overwhelming support. Soon, Randazzo began to receive “vile” and “cruel” messages, some threatening her, Thiel said.

Thiel said Randazzo did not tell the family the contents of the messages to shield them from some of the vitriol.

After the GoFundMe was shut down, Randazzo set up another fund-raiser on Give In Kind that Thiel confirmed was legitimate. Supporters are asked to donate gift cards that Kristin and Brady can use.

The deadly Christmas fire left the family devastated and the Quakertown community shaken at the abrupt loss of Eric King, a well-liked father and youth sports coach, and Liam and Patrick, two boys their family described as “strong,” “smart,” and “sweet.”

» READ MORE: Christmas house fire kills a Quakertown father and two of his young sons

All the boys were athletes, and Eric King often coached with the Quakertown Youth Baseball Association.

The Quakertown School District posted a message on their website offering counseling to anyone affected by the loss. The two boys attended Richland Elementary School.

“This news is devastating to the school district community and the Quakertown area at large,” the statement read. “Eric and Kristin and their boys are very active in our community. The school district sends its heartfelt sympathy to the King family and their many friends and relatives.”

As of Monday, funeral services had not been planned, Thiel said.

Anna Orso contributed to this report.