This photograph of Jennifer Dempsey is the one she posted to Facebook, police said. (Source: Phoenix Police Department)
Booking photo (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
PHOENIX (CBS5) -
A woman who portrayed herself online as a 16-year-old girl who was pregnant was arrested Thursday for engaging in sex acts with teenage boys, Phoenix police said.
Jennifer Dempsey, 35, is accused of contacting 14-year-old to 16-year-old boys she did not know through Facebook and then meeting them for sex acts, Phoenix police spokesman Sgt. Trent Crump said.
Dempsey told both victims she was pregnant and attended a meeting with one of the victim's parents, Crump said.
Crump also said for the past five years, Dempsey convinced her family she had cancer. She shaved her head, bought wigs and had a fake chemotherapy port taped to her chest to make it appear real, Crump said.
Police detectives discovered Dempsey did not have cancer, but used the claim to help avoid arrest.
"She used her cancer ploy to our detectives to try and stay out of trouble," said Crump. "She said this is the reason why she didn't engage in the sexual conduct because she was constantly ill from chemotherapy, all of which we learned in the following days, was not true."
CBS5 News spoke to several of Dempsey's neighbors who said that they would see her with a tube on her chest and assumed she was fighting cancer.
"It was my belief that she was very, very ill," said Carolyn Chavez, the office manager at Dempsey's condominium complex. "She wore a tube all the time. We've had other residents with cancer and I thought she fit the profile."
"It really is shocking," said neighbor Elizabeth Slipek.
"I can't believe somebody would go to great lengths to go to something like that. It's ridiculous, especially as an adult. We look up to adults. We're teenagers ourselves and for somebody to do something like that, it's not the best thing to hear," she continued.
During the investigation, police said they recovered incriminating text messages that led to her arrest. Dempsey admitted she had sex with the older victim, but denied sexual activity with the younger boy, although she did make statements that corroborate the charges, Crump added.
Police served a search warrant on her home, which produced several pieces of evidence.
Crump said the police investigation started after the parents of one of the teenagers came forward.
According to police, the parents had met Dempsey and didn't believe she was 16-years-old. The parents also found nude photos being exchanged with their son, police said.
Dempsey was booked into jail on several counts of sexual conduct with a minor.
Police said there is concern the conduct may have been going on for some time.
People with information related to the case are asked to contact the Phoenix Police Department's Family Investigation Bureau at 602-534-2121 or Silent Witness.
Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.
PD: AZ woman has sex with teens, fakes cancer to avoid arrestMore>>
The valley is preparing to say its final goodbyes to a fallen Phoenix police officer. Visitation was held Friday night for Officer Daryl Raetz - with a steady stream of his family, friends and colleagues.More >
Visitation was held Friday night for Officer Daryl Raetz - with a steady stream of his family, friends and colleagues - ahead of Saturday's funeral.More >
Thursday, May 23 2013 12:39 PM EDT2013-05-23 16:39:28 GMT
Dan Marco's son was murdered in 2010. (Source: CBS 5 News)
Only people who have lost a close loved one can understand the pain of Travis Alexander's family"My heart goes out to them, because I understand," says Dan Marco, who's son Zachary was murdered in 2010.ZacharyMore >
Only people who have lost a close loved one can understand the pain of Travis Alexander's family.More >
Friday, May 24 2013 4:19 PM EDT2013-05-24 20:19:28 GMT
The Young and the Restless is airing a special tribute episode to the late Jeanne Cooper on Tuesday, May 28 at 11 a.m. MST. Cast members and friends of Cooper recently gathered on set to shoot a celebrationMore >
The Young and the Restless is airing a special tribute episode to the late Jeanne Cooper on Tuesday, May 28 at 11 a.m. MST.More >
Thursday, May 23 2013 11:43 AM EDT2013-05-23 15:43:24 GMT
Fallen officer's daughter graduates from kindergarten
Hundreds of Phoenix police officers showed their support for a fallen colleague by attending his daughter's kindergarten graduation in Anthem on Wednesday. Officer Daryl Raetz was killed in the lineMore >
Tatum Raetz, 5, graduated from kindergarten in Anthem Wednesday and hundreds of uniformed Phoenix police officers were there to show their support for the family.More >
Friday, May 24 2013 10:40 PM EDT2013-05-25 02:40:59 GMT
Closed iBeach Tan location in Gilbert.
Tracy Grogitsky purchased two memberships to the iBeach Tan salon in Gilbert just a few weeks ago. She said one was for a gift for her friends. Thursday, she went to the location to tan. "I thought, 'Oh,More >
Two local tanning salons closed without notice, and customers say they're not getting any refunds. More >
Friday, May 24 2013 12:29 PM EDT2013-05-24 16:29:51 GMT
Every week, CBS 5 News is sent a list of restaurants that have been recently inspected by Maricopa County's Environmental Services Department. CBS 5 News selects five restaurants with some of the highestMore >
Every week, CBS 5 News is sent a list of restaurants that have been recently inspected by Maricopa County's Environmental Services Department.More >