Jenni McGruder’s husband speaks out about fundraiser under investigation

GALESBURG, Illinois - Jenni McGruder, who was considered an innocent bystander, was gunned down outside of the Seminary Street Pub in Galesburg on April 1, 2018.

A few weeks later, tattoo artist Mario Davis set up a fundraiser to benefit Jenni's kids.

Michael McGruder, Jenni's husband, said Davis and other tattoo artists were giving $50 tattoos in a two-day event.

"He was going to keep tattooing until he made ten-thousand dollars is what he told me," said McGruder.

McGruder said he was thankful for the event and went to the tattoo shop to receive a tattoo of his own.

He said Davis told him all of the money raised during the event would be donated to the McGruder family.

Following the fundraiser, McGruder asked Davis to write a check that could be deposited into the Jenni Howe-McGruder Memorial Fund. However, McGruder said Davis wanted to deliver the check in person and meet the kids.

McGruder said he agreed to have a check personally delivered. Then, a few days later Davis contacted McGruder again saying they did not raise as much money as originally planned. That's when McGruder said Davis offered to donate the money through the GoFundMe Page that was set up after Jenni died.

McGruder said he checked with his family and learned that the money was never donated.

"I didn’t get any money. There was never any money donated," said McGruder.

Several months passed, and artists who helped with the tattoo event learned that McGruder had never received the money he was promised.

A police report was filed with the East Peoria Police Department on December 3, 2018.

McGruder said he was told that thousands of dollars were raised.

That money is now missing.

Mario Davis, the fundraiser organizer, tells HOI News in Peoria that he handed the money to McGruder. He said the donation was paid in cash.

"He went from a check, to meeting the family, to depositing in the GoFundme and now he's saying cash that he gave me," said McGruder.

Now, McGruder says his family was taken advantage of.

"People just used her name and basically the momentum that she had caused, the momentum from her murder. They took advantage of it and raised money for their own benefit," said McGruder when asked about he thinks happened to the money.

McGruder said he has no motive to lie about the situation and said it has been a hard thing to go through.

"To just re-live all of this stuff all over again, it makes it harder each and every day," he said.

Still, Davis insists to HOI News reporter Kyle Beachy that he handed the money over.

East Peoria Police confirm to News 8 that an investigation is ongoing.

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