The Investigators

Jul 24, 2013 1:15 AM by Matthew Schwartz

Blind Faith?

TUCSON - Darryl Willhite calls himself a pastor. Some who know him call him a con man. They say the 53-year old Willhite is asking Tucson residents for money to buy a building on Grant Rd. near Tucson Blvd. for his Krystal Light Ministry. But several of his acquaintances told the News 4 Tucson Investigators that Willhite doesn't practice what he preaches.

Tim Booker is the Senior Pastor of the Church on the Street, which provides food, shelter and bible study for the homeless. He says he's known Willhite since 2000.

Pastor Booker said of Willhite, "He's a con."

Booker says Willhite was a homeless drug addict when his church took him in. He claims Willhite stole the church's truck and $500 from a church bank card.

We met Willhite outside the building he hopes to buy, and asked him, "Did you steal the church truck and bank card, as Pastor Booker claims?" He replied, "No." We asked, "Why would Pastor Booker, a Senior Pastor, lie about you?" Willhite replied, "Well, I don't know. I can't give you Pastor Tim's reasoning."

But there's more: Court records show that Darryl Willhite has a long criminal record, having been arrested at least three dozen times in Arizona, Nevada and California. Las Vegas Police told us they arrested Willhite at least 30 times between 1998 and 2012, on charges including larceny, theft and forgery; the forgery conviction ultimately resulting in a 10-month jail sentence. Records show that in 2000, Willhite was found guilty in Tucson of resisting arrest. Records also show that in 1998 , he pled no contest to theft in Pima County. All the charges since 2004 are misdemeanors.

Willhite says, "I used to be an addict. I gave my life to Jesus Christ."

We had the following exchange with Willhite:

News 4 Tuscon Investigators: "When was the last time you were arrested for anything?"
Willhite: "Um. I think 2005. 2005?
News 4: "I have a mug shot of you from Las Vegas Police from 2012."
Willhite: "For what?"
News 4: "Motor vehicle violations. Not walking in the crosswalk, things like that, not having insurance."
Willhite: "Ha-ha. I don't count a jaywalking ticket as something that's a big deal."

Ramona Huerta met Willhite recently through a minister. She said five minutes after Willhite saw her, he said God sent her to him, got down on one knee, and proposed.

Huerta told us, "He's a good sweet-talker, he's a good sweet-talker. He's a fake."

We said to Willhite, "It doesn't sound very pastor-like to get on one knee and propose marriage to somebody five minutes after meeting them. "He replied, "I'm sorry, sir, that's not true. I was playing with her, ok, in a manner."

Soon after meeting Ramona, Willhite confirmed to us that he did move in with her and stayed for several days. He said, "She's an attractive woman, to say the least."

Turn around and walk away, because he's not who he says he is.

Denise Maurici was Ramona's roommate. Maurici said, "I am Christian, and I just can't believe someone would actually act like that, and use God and the church and all that."

Maurici's advice for anyone who Willhite approaches? "Turn around and walk away, because he's not who he says he is."

The News 4 Tucson Investigators asked Willhite, "Why are three people telling me you're a liar, a con man and a sweet-talker, and don't trust you?" He said, " Well, I'm trying to tell you. The woman is a woman scored, for whatever reason."

Willhite said Ms. Huerta is trying to destroy him in the media because he ended their brief relationship. She says that's not the case, that she kicked him out.

We asked Willhite, "Why should people watching this believe you?" He said, "I've had some difficulties and some struggles, but that's how I've learned what to do and what not to do."

Finally, Pastor Booker of The Church on the Street said, "The public should know that if you deal with Darryl Willhite, and you get burnt, that's on you."

The realtor listing the building that Willhite wants to buy for his ministry told us the selling price is $749,000. Willhite says he is still hopeful of collecting donations from Tucsonans to buy the place for his ministry.

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