‘This is a bad dream’: Fort Bend Co. woman says mistake by HPD landed her wrongfully behind bars in Florida

A woman from the Richmond area who spent days in a Florida jail because of what she’s calling a huge mistake is now sharing her story exclusively with KPRC 2.

Jennifer Heath Box says she was a victim of a case of mistaken identity, and it caused her to miss out on one of the most special moments of her life.

Now that she’s out of jail, she’s working to figure out how she was mistaken for a felony suspect bearing a similar name, and hopes that a situation like this doesn’t happen again.

“I see things a lot differently now,” she said. “It was extremely terrifying.”

An enjoyable family cruise celebrating her brother’s victory over a bout with cancer ended with her locked up in a Broward County jail right after the cruise ship docked in Ft. Lauderdale this past Christmas Eve.

“I was met by border patrol and Broward County Sheriff’s Department,” she said.

The plans she had after the cruise to return home and see her Marine son off for his deployment to Okinawa, Japan never happened.

“They escorted me off the ship in front of all of God’s country, saying that I had a warrant for child endangerment,” she said.

She believes the mistake started with Houston police who issued the warrant.

“When they went through the process of creating the warrant, they just took my driver’s license, [and] whom ever on the Houston side, just not going through the checks and balances, had my photo attached to another person’s warrant with the same name,” she said.

But Heath Box, a mother whose oldest child is 30, says she learned there were striking differences between her and the real suspect.

“It was another Jennifer Heath in her 20s, [I’m] in my 40s. Huge age difference,” Heath Box said.

Finally, Heath Box was released two days after Christmas after a Motion to Dismiss was filed by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, stating the child’s father didn’t want to prosecute and that there may be evidentiary issues.

“It didn’t have to happen had HPD been more diligent,” she said.

While Heath Box says she was happy to be freed, she still doesn’t believe it was ever communicated between agencies that she was never the actual suspect.

Between attorney fees and unnecessary travel expenses, Heath Box says she’s out of about $10,000.

KRPC 2 reached to HPD, Broward County Sheriff’s Office, and the Harris County DA’s office and were told by all three agencies that they were looking into exactly what happened, but so far have not gotten a response.

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