Family 'ashamed' woman lied about cancer
A woman accused of pretending to have cancer so she could raise money for herself is to appear in an Ontario court Monday to face charges, but her father says she won't have the support of her family.
"She was pleading for me to be there because she doesn't have anybody else," a weary Mike Kirilow said Sunday, moments after he got off the phone with his daughter Ashley, who made a collect call from a detention centre.
"I want no part of this. She told me to stay out of her life. I gave her every opportunity to do the right thing."
Police allege 23-year-old Ashley Anne Kirilow of Burlington, Ont., organized fundraisers with the help of others who believed her to be terminally ill.
Kirilow turned herself in to police Friday and was charged with three counts of fraud under $5,000.
The case has grabbed international headlines and caused outrage on a Facebook wall for the charity Change for a Cure, which Ashley Kirilow created.
Photos on the website Saturday showed Kirilow, smiling but looking sallow in a pink knit hat covering her apparently bald head. In the picture, Kirilow is making fists with her hands to show off tattoos on her knuckles that in black lettering read "won't quit."
Other photos, which have since been taken down, showed a pair of hands wrapped in tubes and taped in needles.
A published report last week quoted Kirilow as saying she is sorry for what she has done.
Her mother, Cindy Edwards of Brantford, Ont., said she and her family are distraught after trying everything to help her troubled daughter.
"I read so many things … so many people donating, 'Oh, we donated our money from school,"' Edwards said as she cried.
"There was so much money, and she's making out like it was nothing. It just makes me really sick."
Kirilow has been estranged from her father, mother, stepmother and siblings since 2005.
Mike Kirilow said Ashley called him and his wife, Ashley's stepmother, in January 2009 to say she had cancer and ask for a bone marrow donation.
Immediately, the father said, he and other family members offered to be tested to see if they would be match. But Kirilow soon discovered Ashley was not being treated at the place she claimed to be receiving care.
Ashley then cut off all contact with her father, who said he left messages saying he would contact the police and they could knock down her door to see if she was OK.
Kirilow's wife began following Ashley and her charity on Facebook at the beginning of 2010.
"We knew that she was lying about the cancer," Kirilow said. "Well, I did in my gut.
"With the charity, we just felt there would be other people involved, so she wouldn't be ripping them off."
Ashley Kirilow made a statement on Facebook this year, saying it would be her last post because she was dying.
Kirilow called his daughter and after several conversations she revealed she did not have cancer.
"In one of the conversations I said, 'You don't have cancer, do you?' and she said 'No.'"
He said she told him she shaved her head, shaved her eyebrows and plucked her eyelashes to appear to have the illness.
Soon, Kirilow said, volunteers at Ashley Kirilow's charity became suspicious and began contacting authorities.
"It's caused a lot of embarrassment, and we're ashamed of the situation," said the father, who also appeared on Good Morning America on Sunday, disguising his face.
He said he feels compelled to speak out to clarify to the public that no one else involved with the charity knew of illegal activity. Some people who tried to help Ashley have received death threats, he said.
Kirilow said his daughter told him she lied about the cancer to hurt him and her mother.
Ashley Kirilow's mother said she and the family have been devastated by the Facebook messages and misinformation posted by her daughter.
"From her telling everybody she needed help because she had no family, and her mother died from crack or cocaine, and meanwhile, she had seven siblings," Edwards said.
"She had family, but she made everyone think she had nobody."
Edwards said she also will not be in a courtroom in Milton, Ont., near Toronto, when Ashley appears for a bail hearing.
"I have nothing to do with her anymore," Edwards said.
None of the allegations against Ashley Kirilow have been proven in court.