Detectives in Palmdale, Calif., are searching for thousands of dollars worth of jewelry belonging to the parents of a middle school student who told police she was tricked into stealing it by a woman claiming to be a psychic.
Jackeline Lopez, 42, the mother of one of the girl’s school friends, allegedly told the 12-year-old she was cursed — but the hex could be removed for a price.
For the next month police say the victim gave approximately $10,000 of her parents’ jewelry to Lopez. The bounty included earrings, bracelets, necklaces, rings and watches all accumulated over the couple’s 23 year relationship, Palmdale Sheriff’s department spokesman Robbie Royster told ABCNews.com.
The extortion allegedly occurred from mid August until Sept. 17, when Lopez was arrested.
The girl told detectives Lopez would ask for the jewelry during rituals performed in her garage, which was decorated with candles, chalk outlines and replications of human skulls.
“It was kind of like a séance in which she would have the girl place the jewelry that she brought into the little black cauldron and mix that with beads and paper and do a form a form of chant,” Royster said. ”And then at the end of it she would say that it didn’t work, you didn’t bring enough. You need to bring more.”
When her parents noticed their jewelry was missing their daughter confessed that she had been giving it to her friend’s mother.
Detectives tracked down many of the missing items at a pawn shop in Palmdale. Although they recovered $1,500, about $8,500 in jewelry is still unaccounted for, Royster said.
It’s possible, he added, that the jewelry might be at other area pawn shops.
Detectives want to talk to this man, seen on a surveillance camera in a red shirt.
He was last seen with Lopez, who allegedly visited the pawn shop several times with her school-aged children whenever she received new jewelry, police said.
She had dropped off the bulk of the goods, worth about $6,000, in September as collateral for a cash payment. Later on the man in the red shirt redeemed the jewelry for $600 and walked out of the store with Lopez, police said.
The Palmdale Sheriff’s department is now asking for the public’s help in finding him. As of this morning, they don’t have any leads, Royster said.
Lopez was released Oct. 3 on $35,000 bail and will appear in court on Oct. 18. Her public defender was not immediately available for comment.