MIDDLETOWN, Ind - Investigators are searching for a woman who is charged with stealing thousands of dollars from a local high school’s band booster program.
The Henry County Prosecutor's Office filed 17 counts of felony theft against 61-year-old Janice “Joanne” Wells. Court documents say Wells, who used to live in Middletown, used her position on the Shenandoah High School Band Boosters' board to write checks to herself, family members, and for cash. Wells had been in charge of purchasing for the band boosters and the concession stand.
State police began investigating the case in February 2015 after hearing from the band boosters' treasurer about several checks written from the club’s account. The investigator on the case found Wells had written multiple checks from April 2013 to June 2014 for purposes not related to the band boosters. Wells allegedly used blank checks that were signed by the club’s treasurer to pay herself or family members a few hundred dollars at a time.
The 17 theft charges listed a total dollar amount just under $6,500. However, the state police investigator on the case wrote in his reports that the total was closer to $20,000.
Although the charges against Wells have been filed, she has not been arrested. For the last year and a half, she has managed to avoid police by moving around frequently. The investigator believes Wells has been staying with different families in different places. Her listed address is in Middletown, but authorities think Wells may have moved somewhere in the Bloomington area. There was also concern that Wells may have left Indiana to stay in Oregon, where she has a prior warrant in a theft case.
The investigator also says he recently received an anonymous tip that Wells may have traveled to Virginia.
Shenandoah school officials say the Band Boosters have reviewed and reevaluated their purchasing procedures in order to avoid future embezzlement cases.
Janice Wells, who normally goes by her middle name Joanne, remains at large as of Monday. Anyone with information about here whereabouts is asked to call the Henry County Prosecutor's Office, or Detective Andy Byers at the Indiana State Police Pendleton Post. That number is 765-778-2121.