Sheriff’s Office arrests Evansville woman on additional theft charges

Riley Guerzini, Editor-in-Chief

The Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office arrested Caroline Rich Sept. 25 on additional charges stemming from a fraud investigation in which she stole money meant to fund funeral expenses for Oliver Dill, the son of a USI employee who died on campus in July after being left in a hot vehicle. 

The Sheriff’s Office has charged Rich with eight additional felonies – three counts of identity deception, two counts of forgery and 2 counts of theft – and theft as a Class A misdemeanor.

Caroline Rich

“Sometimes through their own greed, they start stealing small sums of money because it’s easy and they develop a plan and system and they think they are going to get away with it so they steal until they’re caught,” Vanderburgh County Sheriff Dave Wedding said.

Rich, a family services counselor at Alexander Funeral Homes, was previously arrested Sept. 11 after allegedly taking $18,273 from the Dill family. The money had been raised through a GoFundMe account and the family paid Rich directly through a PayPal account, thinking she would transfer the funds to the funeral home, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

A press release from the Sheriff’s Office stated Rich was terminated and the funeral home reimbursed the family. She was out on a $500 bond for three counts of forgery, three counts of theft and three counts of counterfeiting.

The additional charges against Rich come as the Sheriff’s Office has identified three other families whom she has defrauded.

Rich worked with one family to pre-plan a funeral, costing a total of $8,832. Again payments were made to Rich’s personal PayPal account and the family was provided with false invoices and receipts according to the Sheriff’s Office. She allegedly kept the money.

Another incident involved circumstances where a client wished to pre-plan services for her and her mother, totaling $9,223. The money was again paid to Rich’s personal PayPal account and she kept the money.

Rich advised another client to pay her directly with a check for memory books of her deceased husband. She allegedly told the client that she would turn in the books herself using her employee discount. She never ordered the books and kept the money according to the Sheriff’s Office.

The families were identified after the funeral home began conducting their own audits. With the help of the Sheriff’s Office, they notified the families.

“We believe that there may be other victims out there that aren’t aware,” he said. “We’re asking people that if you have pre-planned a funeral with Alexander through Caroline Rich in the last four years to contact the Sheriff’s Office.”

Rich has allegedly stolen nearly $40,000 from all four families. Alexander Funeral Homes is working with the Sheriff’s Office to identify any additional victims.

All three incidents allegedly occurred within the last year. Wedding said investigators are not sure when Rich began defrauding families.

He said investigators are also not sure what Rich was going to do with the money and to date, they have not recovered any of the money to give back to the victims.

“We believe we have a lot of work to do and much more investigation is ahead,” Wedding said.

Rich is being held without bond until making a court appearance.