'I am mortified,' says woman in Eastern Market catering misunderstanding

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Detroit — Janice Jones, 53, didn't sleep well at all Monday night.

She hadn't been home long before she got a concerned message from a friend, asking if everything was OK.

More:Detroit police looking for woman who left with catering order without paying

She lives in the area of Eight Mile and Greenfield in northwest Detroit, not far from where the manhunt for homicide suspect Kenyel Brown ended with the suspect shooting himself in the head, and she assumed her friend, a Detroit police officer, was asking about that.

More:Multiple murder suspect Kenyel Brown shoots himself after police chase

He wasn't. He was calling because he had seen her face on WDIV-TV, identified as a suspect in a dine-and-dash from Amore da Roma, an Italian restaurant in Eastern Market. An online version of the story now leads to a website error on the ClickOnDetroit.com website. 

Janice Jones

He texted screenshots from the news report. Jones saw her face looking back at her.

It wasn't long before Jones and her son, who she lives with, saw the report themselves on WXYZ-TV. 

"I ought to turn you in myself," he joked.

But the flood of concerned calls and text messages from friends for a misunderstanding that's now been resolved has been anything but humorous, she said.

"I am mortified," Jones told The News on Tuesday afternoon. "I didn't sleep last night. My phone has been constantly ringing."

Detroit police sent a photo of a woman they suspected of stealing a  catering order. Janice Jones said she believed her employer had paid for the order and it's all a misunderstanding.

Jones, an executive assistant at Team Wellness Center, arrived at Amore da Roma, 3401 Riopelle, after 11 a.m. Feb. 12 to pick up a large catering order that would be served at noon.

Two restaurant workers helped her load the food order, which the restaurant says ran about $200, into her Pontiac Grand Prix. But when she left, the bill still hadn't been paid.

Jones says she called the restaurant the night before, to confirm the order, that it was in her name, and believed it had been paid. She made a small addition to the order, for a vegan colleague, and paid for it. She said she still has that receipt.

Police say that "when the restaurant tried to contact the suspect, they were unable to reach her."

Late Monday night, Karlton Akins, a spokesman for Team Wellness, contacted The Detroit News, writing that the food "was supposed to have been paid for over the phone via credit card," and describing the entire ordeal as a misunderstanding. 

On Tuesday morning, Team Wellness Center paid the bill, confirmed a staffer at the restaurant who declined to give her name. 

While the bill has been paid, Jones says she's still hearing from people who've seen her face all over the news.

"It's not over for me," Jones said. "Nobody actually reads the news. I want my face back on the news. (The public) saw me on the news, saying that I did this. I did nothing wrong. All I did is my job. Keep that same energy in clearing my name as you did when you brought it down."

The story isn't over in the eyes of the law, either. 

Sgt. Matthew Bray, a detective in Detroit's 7th precinct, told The News that "the facts will be reviewed. And then if there's a charging decision, that will be submitted to the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office. But as a final determination hasn't been made, yet."

Bray declined to say if the police had reached out to Jones.

"She has not reached out to us," Bray said. "We would be interested in speaking with her ... If it's really an error — some people claim that, and sometimes it's accurate, sometimes it's not —  if that's the case, we need to speak to her."