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4-state organization for citizens against crime dissolves - KOAM TV 7

4-state organization for citizens against crime dissolves

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Robert Sheldon Jr. joined Heartland Crime Stoppers four years ago for one reason.

"To keep other people from going through the same or similar experience," he said.

The experience he refers to is the 2008 murder of his parents. With efforts to reduce such heinous acts, Sheldon Jr. Volunteered alongside others to run Heartland Crime Stoppers, the Joplin-based program that takes anonymous tips from the community to assist investigators in solving crimes.

But due to financial difficulties, the non-profit decided to close its doors.

"There's just not enough to continue any further," said Sheldon Jr.

While the organization is ran by it offered cash rewards to anyone who gave information leading to a felony arrest. But Schopper says there was a great deal of overhead, from funding the call center to the computers.

"You don't think about being a not-for-profit that we have bills."

The financial problems have been developing for some time.

In June 2013, Matthew L. Paige, the organization's former treasurer, was arrested and charged with felony stealing of more than $3,000 in funds from the program. The investigation is active.

Newton County Chief Deputy Chris Jennings keeps a file of the tips he received from Heartland Crime Stoppers.

"Normally locations of someone that we had a warrant for was on of the bigger benefits we had from it," said Jennings.

Schopper says the decision to dissolve is hard.

"Disheartened. That's the only word Ican say about closing it."

Both she and Sheldon say their efforts were for the community--and they hope another chance to volunteer in a similar setting arises one day.

We could reorganize and still come back and do it again or maybe there's another organization that we could find to go out there to continue the work," said Sheldon.


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