Good Question: When is Crime Stopper's reward money denied?

December 11, 2017 06:17 AM

You may have heard about the Tampa woman, who helped police arrest a suspected serial killer but was initially denied the reward money.

The reason for the denial? 
She did not call the tip into the Crime Stoppers Hotline.
So that brings up a Good Question: do you have to actually call Crime Stoppers to get a reward being offered for an arrest? Will you be denied if you call 911 or tell a police officer on the street instead?

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Pat Taney looked into it.

Delonda Walker, from Tampa, helped police arrest Howell Donaldson. He's accused of terrorizing a Tampa neighborhood and murdering four people over more than 50 days. Walker did not call her tip into the Crime Stoppers hotline, which was offering lucrative reward money. Instead she gave an officer a gun tied to the suspect which helped crack the case.

Walker was initially told she was not illegible for the reward money because she failed to call Crime Stoppers.

The Tampa area Crime Stoppers received a lot of criticism for that and eventually changed course and handed over the $110,000 to Walker.

So what are the rules when it comes to reward money? 

We went to Paul Hawkins for the answer. He's the Chairperson for the Rochester area Crime Stoppers.

Taney: Do I have to call Crime Stoppers to get that reward money?

Hawkins: I guess it depends. Every situation is handled singularly. We look at every situation we have and we make a decision based on what information we have.

Again in Tampa, Walker was at first denied reward money because she didn't call the hotline.

But that was in Tampa. When it comes to Crime Stoppers: 

"Each chapter is independent so we do what we think is correct," Hawkins said.

Okay, so here in Rochester, what is correct?

Taney: Let’s say I just talk to the officer on the street or call 911 with a hot tip. Will I still be eligible if my tip leads to an arrest? 

Hawkins: Most police officers know our program. Many will encourage tipsters to call our hotline anonymously so they can get paid for the reward. That's what we encourage.

Best bet, if you have a hot tip on an unsolved case, call Crime Stoppers first. 

We also wanted to know what happens if you have to call 911 during an emergency and at the time, give critical information that later leads to an arrest for a crime tied to reward money. Will you still get paid?

Hawkins: Depends on the circumstance, they can call 911 and then us.

And when you do call, all tips remain anonymous and again, could lead to a big payday.

So who decides if your tip gets a reward? A board made up of 25 members of the community. They look at every tip that leads to an arrest and determine the money each tipster should be given.

For a look at unsolved cases in this area, click here:

If you have a question you would like Pat to answer, email him at


Pat Taney

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