Woman accused of attempted kidnapping in San Antonio was bride who faked cancer in 2010, court records show

‘I think that she is absolutely evil and she knows exactly what she is doing,’ Vega’s ex-husband told KSAT

Jessica Vega was arrested in San Antonio on Sept. 7, 2022 and charged with attempted kidnapping made national news in 2012 after admitting she faked a cancer diagnoses to defraud people out of money. (KSAT/SAPD/ABC News)

SAN ANTONIO – A woman who was arrested in San Antonio this week for allegedly trying to kidnap a child at a West Side Walmart store is the same woman convicted a decade ago after admitting that she faked a cancer diagnosis to scam people out of thousands of dollars to pay for her dream wedding and honeymoon, according to court records.

Jessica Vega, 35, was arrested in San Antonio on Tuesday. She is currently in the Bexar County Jail as of Sept. 8 at 2 p.m.

Vega first made national news in 2012 while she was living in New York. She even gave an interview to “20/20″ admitting that a friend forged letters from doctors about her supposed cancer treatments. She fooled friends and family — even her fiancé — that she had leukemia and then accepted more than $13,000 in donations that paid for a wedding and a honeymoon in Aruba.

Jessica Vega pleaded guilty to charges of scheme to defraud and possession of a forged instrument in an Orange County court in Goshen, New York in 2012. (ABC News)

Vega pleaded guilty after serving several months in an Orange County, New York, jail and was sentenced to probation and ordered to pay restitution, the Times Herald-Record reported.

That former fiancé — now Vega’s ex-husband — contacted KSAT on Tuesday after her arrest to report the connection.

KSAT confirmed through public records that the woman arrested in San Antonio is the same Jessica Vega who became known as the “cancer bride.”

“She’s a really sick, twisted individual,” Michael O’Connell said in a phone interview with KSAT.

Attempted kidnapping

According to an arrest affidavit signed by a magistrate judge in Bexar County on Tuesday, Vega, 35, tried to kidnap a four-year-old girl while the girl was shopping with her mom on Monday at the Walmart at 1604 and Potranco Road.

The mom told police that Vega grabbed her shopping cart and started pushing it away with her 4-year-old sitting inside.

A store employee intervened and the mother was able to grab her child from the cart, police said.

According to the affidavit, Vega told the woman, “just because she’s yours doesn’t mean I can’t take her,” and then walked out of the store.

Vega was identified by a loss prevention officer who recognized Vega from a previous incident at a different Walmart and was taken into custody the next day.

‘She knows exactly what she’s doing’

“I think that she is absolutely evil and she knows exactly what she is doing,” O’Connell said.

O’Connell, who is the father to one of Vega’s children, told KSAT that Vega’s mother has custody of Vega’s kids in New York and said she may have come to San Antonio because she had a friend living here.

Vega is charged in the most recent case with attempted kidnapping, a state jail felony, and was booked into the Bexar County Jail.

In her mugshot, Vega’s head is lowered and she’s looking up at the camera. Her ex-husband is convinced the pose was premeditated.

“That mugshot is all an act,” O’Connell said. “She knows how to play the game and that was a direct setup for an insanity plea.”

Court records show that she has a pre-trial hearing set for next month.

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About the Author:

Julie Moreno has worked in local television news for more than 25 years. She came to KSAT as a news producer in 2000. After producing thousands of newscasts, she transitioned to the digital team in 2015. She writes on a wide variety of topics from breaking news to trending stories and manages KSAT’s daily digital content strategy.