INDIANAPOLIS -- The story was touching.
The 36-year-old single father of four was dying of cancer. He needed money to pay for his treatment and his rent.
There were T-shirts, candles and fundraisers. Christmas 2013 likely would be his last.
The story tugged at the heartstrings as well as the purse strings, raising at least $3,400 for his cause.
The only problem, police say, is that the story was a lie.
Speedway, Ind., resident Jonathan Fox was healthy, police said; he just wanted money. He misled donors, a state legislator and even his own children.
His lie was discovered, police said, in part because of a beard.
The tale began about four years ago. A small mass was removed from Fox's stomach in February 2010, according to court documents. He underwent two precautionary chemotherapy treatments in case surgeons failed to remove all of the possibly precancerous growth.
But, police said, he later told people that he had terminal cancer.
Fox bought T-shirts and candles emblazoned with his name and his plight, court documents said. He held his own fundraisers. One event at the Speedway Moose Lodge collected nearly $1,100.
His story drew the attention of Democratic state Rep. Karlee Macer, who was so moved that she made extra efforts to help him, according to court documents.
Macer wrote four checks to Fox, totaling $1,800. Of that amount, $250 went for Christmas gifts for Fox's children after he told Macer the 2013 holiday likely would be his last.
Macer said she even helped the family shop for the gifts.
The lawmaker later introduced Fox to an American Cancer Society staff member so the organization could help pay for chemotherapy, police said. But she became suspicious when Fox never provided the needed documentation to secure the financial help.
She also became suspicious when Fox posted a photo online in which he said he had shaved his head because his hair was falling out from chemotherapy. But while his head was bald, he sported thick facial hair.
"When you're having chemo, you lose your hair all over," Macer said.
Macer said she first lamented the fact that her financial donations did not help an actual cancer victim. Later, though, she thought about Fox's children, who she said also were victims of their father's deception.
"Lying about having cancer stinks altogether," she said. "But to also have four children believing you are sick and dying of terminal cancer is even more disappointing."
Another victim was Rosann Tunny, who met Fox on Feb. 25 and gave him $500, police said. The woman was sympathetic because she lost her husband to lung cancer in December, police said.
"I just felt like it was really sad that someone did that," Tunny said. "I really wasn't mad about losing the money. I figured if he really needed it that bad, he could have it. But I felt bad someone would put their kids through that — thinking he's going to die the whole time."
Fox is charged with three counts of theft. He turned himself in Wednesday after a Marion Superior Court judge signed a warrant for his arrest, said Lt. Trent Theobald of the Speedway Police Department.