Family of murdered Richmond Heights woman warns of fundraiser scam

A Richmond Heights family is outraged and speaking out after someone tried to capitalize on their personal tragedy.

One week ago, on July 29th, 27-year-old Annie Sims was killed in a murder-suicide outside an apartment building in Richmond Heights.

Sims was found in the lobby of her apartment building with her 17-month-old daughter uninjured next to her.  Richmond Heights Police Department identified the gunman as 30-year-old Joseph Debow, Sims boyfriend and the father of her little girl.

RELATED: Police find toddler next to mom's body after apparent murder-suicide

Just days after the shooting, a GoFundMe account appeared on the victim’s behalf, but her family told News 5 Bob Jones, it was set up by a stranger trying to scam others, and that they had not set an account on the popular fundraising website.

“I don’t want the money to go in the wrong hands,” said Julia Hatcher, who says she was Sims' legal guardian since Annie was 8. “I had to let people know that there’s people out there that scam and it’s not right.”

The bogus GoFundMe account has since been taken down, according to members of Sims’ family. To safely secure any money donated in Sims' memory, the family has set up a bank account in her name. The funds from the account will go to help Sims’ daughter’s education expenses down the road.

“Hopefully, she won’t remember this, [what happened] because she was in my daughter’s arms when she got shot,” Hatcher said. “[Annie’s] just kind all the time. She wasn’t mean to anyone. Never.”

Richmond Heights police told News 5, prior to the murder-suicide, the department had no dealings with the couple and no reports to indicate that something this tragic could take place.

But Sims’ family says it was a volatile relationship between the two. The couple would fight, break-up and get back together, said members of Sims family.

Beatrice Sims, Sims' sister, is sending a heartfelt plea to anyone who could be in a similar dangerous relationship.

“If you’re a victim of domestic violence, or if you know someone, a victim of domestic violence, please call for help.”

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