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2 accused of trying to steal Charlotte students’ cancer research money

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/01/15/12/15/K7dnT.Em.138.jpeg|379
    - Mecklenburg County Jail photo
    Christopher Jarin Parks, 19, was arrested last Friday and accused of trying to steal money collected by Sterling Elementary School kindergarten students for cancer research, police say. (Mecklenburg County Jail photo.)
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/01/15/12/15/qtR43.Em.138.jpeg|379
    - Mecklenburg County Jail photo
    Eric Jordan Matthews, 22, was arrested last week after allegedly trying to steal money collected by Sterling Elementary kindergarten students for cancer research, police say. (Mecklenburg County Jail photo.)

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police say they caught two men who allegedly were trying to steal cash.

The money had been collected by kindergarten students for cancer research.

The incident was reported about 12:45 a.m. last Friday, police say, at Sterling Elementary School on China Grove Church Road in southwest Charlotte.

Police say the school alarm went off, and responding officers asked for help from the CMPD K-9 dog unit. Officers say they found two men hiding in the school and say a third man managed to escape.

According to investigators, the suspects were trying to steal money collected by students in a school-wide “Pasta for Pennies” drive, a fund raising effort for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

The kindergarten class that collected the most money was to receive a pasta party from a Charlotte restaurant.

“The students were very excited about the pasta party, and now the school fears that the loss of the donations will delay the party,” said Officer Keith Trietley, a spokesman for CMPD.

Investigators say the burglars caused considerable damage to the school, allegedly breaking a number of windows in offices in an effort to find money. Trietley said several backpacks used to collect food for the needy also were damaged.

The suspects were identified by police as Eric Jordan Matthews, 22, and Christopher Jarin Parks, 19. Police say each man was charged with felony breaking and entering, felony larceny and felony conspiracy. Matthews also was charged with possession of stolen property.

Anyone with information about the third suspect is asked to contact Crime Stoppers, 704-334-1600.

Lyttle: 704-358-6107; Twitter: @slyttle
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