LAURINBURG — A Rockingham woman is facing 11 felony charges for allegedly falsely reporting a missing mother and child.
Investigators with the Scotland County Sheriff’s Office say a report made on Thursday indicated that a Hispanic woman named April Morrison, who had recently had a baby, was being held against her will which led officers to believe the pair could have been the victims of human trafficking or prostitution. They say the report also suggested that the baby had been sold for money or narcotics.
Officers interviewed 30-year-old Danilla Bethea, of East Side Drive in Rockingham, on Thursday and Friday. On the second day, she allegedly told investigators that “ Morrison was safe, and that her baby was in the care of unknown third parties and was also safe,” according to a press release from the sheriff’s office.
Investigators say they determined Bethea’s statements to be false and that Morrison was fictional and that there was no child.
“These false statements were allegedly made and provided for the purposes of allegedly receiving money, from the reporting party, who believed she was supporting an infant child in need, and one whom she believed she would gain custody or guardianship over,” the press release reads. “The image of the infant child provided was an image obtained allegedly through social media.”
Bethea was arrested and charged with 10 felony counts of obtaining property by false pretenses and one felony count of making false reports to a law enforcement agency pertaining to a missing child.
She was booked into the Scotland County Detention Center under a $100,000 secured bond.
All defendants facing criminal charges are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
The following was included in the press release:
“The Scotland County Sheriff’s Office takes every single report of a missing person and/ or child seriously. The Scotland County Sheriff’s Office is trained and ready to respond to, and act swiftly and thoroughly in all reports of any person who may be suspected of being victim to human trafficking or, sexual servitude. The Scotland County Sheriff’s Office believes that in any report of a missing person and, especially any missing juvenile or infant child regardless of the nature of how they came to be missing, is extremely important and a matter that must be addressed immediately and as expediently as possible. This includes information sharing, local, state and federal resources, and information sharing with all available media outlets. This ensures maximizing the potential that a missing person, and especially a child, could be found safely by law enforcement and search and rescue personnel.
“The Scotland County Sheriff’s Office extends a sincere and deep gratitude to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Rockingham Police Department, Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, Fayetteville Police Department, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
“The Scotland County Sheriff’s Office would also like to thank the media outlets and reporters who worked hard, and were patient and enduring in their efforts to collect information and provide it to the public as quickly as possible. Your dedication is important in sharing vital information especially in this case.”