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Mother pleads guilty to collecting daughter's funeral donations

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - The kindness of strangers led to fraud charges against the mother of a child allegedly murdered by her father. Friday that mother pleaded guilty to the crime.

Chanelle Chavis was originally charged with felony obtaining money under false pretenses. That charge was reduced to a misdemeanor.

10 On Your Side uncovered court documents in Virginia Beach that outline accusations against the parents of 3-year-old Camber Chavis, who died in early May.

On May 7, Camber's parents, Alton and Chanelle Chavis, took her to Sentara Princess Anne Hospital, where a doctor diagnosed the girl with a skull fracture and other injuries, according to a search warrant.

Camber died the day after she was admitted to the hospital. The next day, police arrested and charged her father with second-degree murder and told his wife that he had confessed to the crime, the warrant states.

But that's not what Chanelle Chavis told an acquaintance when she asked her to help coordinate donations to pay for her daughter's funeral expenses. Instead, the warrant says, Chavis told the woman her daughter died because of a tragic accident.

A fund set up on GoFundMe.com - and online crowd-funding website - brought in about $10,000 to help with funeral expenses, according to Virginia Beach police.

One woman cut a check for $5,000, but was never made aware of the murder charge, the warrant says.

Then, police say, an investigator discovered on June 3, nearly a month after Camber's death, that her body was still at a funeral home, and that Chanelle Chavis never made funeral arrangements.

Police say someone came forward to make funeral arrangements for Camber, but would not say who or when the services will take place. Police are in the process of returning the GoFundMe donations.

Police arrested and charged Chavis with obtaining money by false pretenses on June 5.  Macie Allen with the Virginia Beach Commonwealth's Attorney office says they were able to offer a lesser charge, because Chavis was never able to get her hands on any of the money.

As for her husband, he will have his preliminary hearing on the murder charge December 15.


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