WATERLOO – The hardest part about faking a kidney transplant can be the scar.
On Wednesday, the daughter of Shawn Marie Eastman Adams told jurors her mother had attempted to enlist her into drawing a transplant scar on her body for the benefit of a Waterloo couple who had been tricked into giving money, supposedly for transportation to an Iowa City hospital for the procedure.
“She was pretending to be sick,” the daughter, 24-year-old Breaunna Wilson, said.
Eastman, 47, of Waterloo, is charged with theft and false reports, and testimony in her trial continued Wednesday in Black Hawk County District Court.
Assistant County Attorney Charity Sullivan said Eastman collected thousands of dollars from the wife of the couple in 2017 and 2018, alleging various cancers and other ailments and hardships. She allegedly promised to repay the loans, saying she had millions of dollars tied up in government red tape.
And when the couple got suspicious and turned off the money, Eastman allegedly went to police with the claim the husband had molested a 12-year-old boy, Sullivan said.
Eastman’s attorney, Heather Jackson, told jurors they will have to determine who is telling the truth.
“Sometimes people who hold themselves out as innocent aren’t so innocent,” Jackson said during opening statements. “There’s a lot of missing pieces to this puzzle. … A lot of lies, a lot of deceit. It will be up to you to determine from whom.”
Wilson told jurors when the couple, David and Terry Roeder, came to visit Adams at her home a day or two following the supposed surgery, Adams had a bandage on her waist and was in bed.
She said Adams had talked to her about looking up photos of kidney scars on the internet to use as a model for the drawing, to add a layer of realism to the scheme.
“What was the reason for that?” Sullivan asked.
“To get money out of Terry,” Wilson said.
“But did you ever draw this on your mother” Sullivan asked.
“No,” Wilson responded. She said Adams later sent the couple one of the internet photos through Wilson’s smart phone, claiming it was Adams’ scar.
Wilson said she later told the Roeders about the ruse following an argument at her mother’s home. She also testified Adams, who operated the Daisy consignment shop, had told her she wanted to take Terry Roeder’s business, the Calico Hen House antique shop, away from Terry and put them in jail.
The boy said Adams actually had cancer about 10 years prior, but in 2017 and 2018 she was telling the couple she had wrist cancer and brain cancer and only had a short time to live.
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“I knew she wasn’t going to die because I knew she didn’t have the problems she said she had,” the boy said.
David Roeder testified his wife met Adams in late 2017, and he was sympathetic because he lost his own sister to cancer a few years earlier.
“That was the biggest reason we started helping,” David Roeder said. “She asked for money for medication. She didn’t have a car. … We could see there was a need there.”
He said Adams told him she had to keep her wrists covered because she had wrist cancer and was in danger of having her hands amputated to keep it from spreading.
Witnesses said the wife often paid rent and utilities for Adams’ home and the Daisy, and Adams signed two promissory notes.
David Roeder said he was concerned about the loans, but Adams told them she had a $3.2 million annuity the IRS had frozen and would become available when her divorce was finalized. She even showed them a supposed document on her phone that backed it up.
“She always said ‘I will pay you back, every penny,’” he said.
Adams also told the couple she had terminal brain cancer and wanted them to care for the boy when she died. David Roeder tried to get to know the boy better, attending his sporting events, playing video games and talking with him.
“I was under the impression we would have that young man in our lives for a long time,” he said.
Prosecutors said the couple also purchased a GMC Envoy for $4,600 for Adams to use with the understanding she would pay them back. Around the time the couple’s suspicious were starting to solidify, the husband took the Envoy to a shop for maintenance.
When Adams wasn’t able to find the vehicle, she became upset and took the boy to the Waterloo Police Department to lodge the sex abuse allegation, according to prosecutors.
The boy told jurors Adams didn’t tell him what to say, but she made the allegation to officers in front of him.
“I knew I had to keep my story straight so they would believe her,” he said. He said he told police nothing happened, but then told an interviewer at child protection center the husband grazed his groin when they were wrestling.
On the stand, the boy said the husband never did anything inappropriate, and said he never told Adams anything that would make her think anything inappropriate happened.
No criminal charges were filed.
Testimony is scheduled to continue on Thursday.