Beatrice hotel worker accused in wedding theft

BEATRICE, Neb. (WOWT) – After the happiest day of their lives, a Nebraska couple endures shocking disgust and heartbreak.

Wedding cards containing cash gifts were stolen from what they thought was a secure reception room.

After a joyful June wedding, Brent and Nicole McAllister share a video with the family that brings out emotions newlyweds shouldn’t feel.

“I’m mad and sad and hurt,” said bride Nicole McAllister.

A security camera in the reception hall captures a hotel employee stealing a bag full of wedding cards containing cash checks and gift cards from guests.

“And then we had to let them know the money got stolen and we never got to see any of it,” Brent McCallister said. “It kind of makes my heart sink you know.”

But police needed an amount for the level of theft charge so the family contacted all the wedding guests.

“The next day she planned to sit and open her cards and see what everybody had wrote,” said Karen Overton, the bride’s mother. “And instead she had to get ahold of everybody and ask how much did you give me?”

A total of $6,095 was allegedly stolen.

For allegedly stealing the gift-stuffed wedding cards, 34-year-old Joshua Wilcox has been charged with felony theft.

When questioned by 6 News, Wilcox claimed to not know about the theft. But the newlyweds say Wilcox told them something else.

”He apologized to us for taking them and saying it was a last-minute decision, and he got scared and threw them all in the trash,” Nicole McCallister said.

That gave the family hope. After the suspect allegedly indicated that he had thrown the cards away, the family members went to a dumpster behind the hotel and dove in.

But the trash had been emptied hours before.

“We spent quite a bit of time out there, going through that dumpster in the back area to no avail,” Grandfather Larry Huls said.

The bag of wedding cards was left in the reception hall as the family went in and out while cleaning up.

“I felt that it was safe and never imagined that it would be stolen,” said the groom’s mother Renee McCallister. “Maybe I put too much trust in people.”

The Holiday Inn Express in Beatrice says the former employee is not in any way representative of the values of the hotel staff and he was terminated immediately. The proprietor says as a gesture of goodwill the hotel is covering the banquet fees of more than $1,500 dollars. But that’s the parents’ cost, so the newlyweds what their loss covered.

“$6,095 because that is what was stolen from us on their property by their employee,” Nicole McCallister said.

The couple says some guests have re-sent cash gifts and the post-wedding theft won’t rob them of any happiness together.

“We’ll get everything settled for the honeymoon and the rest of our lives,” Brent McCallister said.

According to the arrest affidavit, Joshua Wilcox allegedly told police he took the wedding cards in a moment of bad judgment and threw them away. The garbage was collected before he could retrieve them.

There’s no mention of whether the cash, checks, and gift cards were still in the wedding cards or not.

Wilcox is free on bond while awaiting his next court appearance in September. The theft suspect’s attorney declined to comment at this time.

“As a local business, we take pride in ensuring our guests have a positive experience at our hotel and express our sympathy that this happened to Mr. and Mrs. McAllister. Our former employee is not in any way representative of the hospitality or values of our hotel staff, and he was terminated immediately. I understand that Mr. and Mrs. McAllister are working with authorities; however, in a gesture of goodwill we are covering the full cost of their banquet fees of $1,561.92 for their wedding reception.”

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