A Pennsylvania couple who reportedly set up a GoFundMe page asking for donations in the wake of their newborn son’s death are now being accused by police of faking the child’s entire existence as part of a ruse to collect cash and gifts from their friends, family and community.
Geoffrey and Kaycee Lang, of Friedens, were hit with misdemeanor theft charges in Westmoreland and Somerset counties this week after police searched their home and found a doll that resembled the infant seen in photos the couple says was of their son, Easton, WTAE reported, citing court documents.
“I don’t know what their motive was – to hurt your family and everybody? It’s just sick,” Cynthia Dilascio, a friend who organized a baby shower for the couple in May and later reported them to police, told the station.
Photographs of the couple showed them opening gifts at the shower, but Dilascio says Kaycee, 23, vanished around seven months into her pregnancy, claiming she was on bed rest.
Court documents viewed by WTAE say the couple then claimed Easton died on July 3 from respiratory distress syndrome shortly after being born at Conemaugh Health System in Johnstown, yet police couldn’t find any records of the mother or child at that facility or coroner’s office.
Dilascio also said she called the funeral home where the couple claimed the child was cremated – only to be told there was no account in the family's name.
“I couldn’t go. I knew that this was fake,” she told WTAE when asked about the memorial service that apparently was held for Easton. “I couldn’t go and sit and watch this go on, and know the truth.”
A Facebook profile purportedly belonging to Geoffrey Lang then posted a link on July 7 to a GoFundMe page set up for Easton.
“Please keep my wife and I in your thoughts and prayer. Our son Easton was born with fluid in his lungs and passed away a few hours after he was born,” the post read. “We would greatly appreciate if as many of you guys could share this and if u are stable enough to do so is donate also to help pay for the funeral expenses and medical bills.”
An obituary also was published in Easton’s name, claiming the child “weighed 7 lbs. 2 oz, and was 17 inches long.
“Easton's parents were blessed with just a little over 5 hours before he went to his heavenly home at 8:20 am,” it read. “Easton experienced holding hands and hugs and kisses with his mommy and daddy and being told uncountable number of ‘I love yous.’"
GoFundMe said the page raised 15 donations totaling $550 – but the site says those donations will now be returned.
"This type of behavior is not tolerated on GoFundMe,” the website said in a statement to WTAE. “We will fully cooperate with law enforcement officials during their investigation and we will issue full refunds to all donors.”
The couple is set to appear in court in October.