It was just before Christmas 2014 when little 5-year-old Kenneth White of Knox, NY was choked, beaten, and buried in the snow by his cousin Tiffany VanAlstyne, who was just 19 herself at the time of the crime. VanAlstyne entered a guilty plea for the murder of her cousin, and is currently serving 18 to life in prison.
So, why are we talking about it? I’m glad you asked. Rather, I’m not glad you asked because honestly this GoFundMe page shouldn’t exist at all, yet here we are talking about it.
Tiffany’s mother Brenda put up a GoFundMe campaign on July 17th that was originally titled ‘mental illness is serious’ but now reads ‘Just for Me’ which is certainly a more accurate title. She writes:
“Hello my name is Brenda. Mental illness affected my family tragically. Most people don’t take mental illness seriously. well i’m living proff that mental illness is real and it’s serious and is why i’m trying to raise money. The money will be used to help us get our life back some what from this tragedy but helping with home repairs and bills. This would mean so much to my family and I to know that there’s people out there that understand the seriousness of mental illness and the affects that it has on you and your family. I need the money soon and in advance I would like to thank those of you from the bottom of my heart for your donations. God Bless You And Your Family.”
Members of the community and advocates from Kenneth’s Army — a group formed in the aftermath of Kenneth’s killing — are outraged to see Tiffany’s mother, who knew of her issues but left Kenneth with her anyway, now taking to GoFundMe to raise funds for herself. As someone who has been touched deeply by mental illness myself, I have to take off my reporter hat and get real: I find it deplorable that someone would use lack of mental health resources — a very real concern — as an excuse to fire up a GoFundMe campaign for $20k in house repairs. No. Bad Brenda, bad bad Brenda.
“It is so heinous what she’s doing,” Michelle Fusco with Kenneth’s Army said. “First of all, she knew her daughter had a mental illness. Many people knew for a long time, and she was being untreated.”
No money was raised by Monday night, and the page was flooded with negative comments. VanAlstyne fired back at the negative commenters in an update on the page.
“There had been 30 complaints to GoFundMe,” Fusco said.
The page was even briefly removed on Monday night, but popped right back up.
Even Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple took to Facebook to warn people not to donate.
News10 was able to connect with Brenda, and she once again tried to play the mental illness card as if that somehow applies to her request for $20k for home repairs. Fix your own damn trailer.
Those home repairs she describes would include, according to her, new windows and other minor improvements at her Knox Trailer. It’s the same home NEWS10 ABC’s Lindsay Nielsen entered in 2014 after it was shut down for code violations. A family court judge found that Brenda abused and neglected Kenneth and his two siblings whom she cared for.
Brenda says she also suffers from severe mental illness.
“I did the best I could with my child. You know she was on medicine and you know she was seeing the doctor.”
In case GoFundMe gets around to removing this farce of a fundraiser, you can find an archived copy here. I wouldn’t count on it though, obviously being a giant POS hiding behind the veil of mental illness to explain away why your nephew is dead and your daughter in jail for it isn’t enough to prevent someone from making a GoFundMe campaign.
Uh, good luck I guess, Brenda?