Woman says she faked having cancer for years to support heroin habit

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. -- An Illinois woman admits she pretended to have cancer to bilk an elderly man out of $133,000.

Felica Howard says most of the money went to support her heroin and crack cocaine habit.

"Heroin. It's the devil. It was all because of drugs. I was a heroin addict for a very long time.  I would do whatever, lie, cheat, steal," said Howard in an interview with WQAD-TV.

Howard pleaded guilty to the crime and was sentenced to four years in prison.

"Even though it's horrible, it saved my life, coming to jail," Howard said.

She says she met the 78-year-old man at a Moline church and at some point started lying about dying.

"I told him I had to have treatments and medications, and stuff like that. I am sorry. So, so sorry. The Felica that is now, wouldn't have done that. I was on drugs, and that's the number one reason why I did that horrible thing. I'm very, very sorry for hurting him and lying to him," she said through tears.

"I will do my best to give him back every penny," she said.

"Heroin is such an ugly, nasty drug. It's the devil," she said, adding she had tried treatment several times in the past.

Howard told the man, who had retired from Deere and took the money out of his retirement savings, that she needed the money to continue to fight for her life in places like the Mayo Clinic, Chicago, and Iowa City.  And she says, while she never had cancer, she does have a disease.

"When I get out, I'm going to continue doing treatment, to do what I can so the disease don't wake up, the addiction don't wake up. I'm not a horrible person. The disease of addiction, that's a disease I'll have to fight the rest of my life. And, there's no cure for that."