Reward rescinded after missing Marine's body found in lake

CLEMENTON, N.J. -- There is a controversy arising from the death of a missing Marine, and the discovery of his body.

It's all about what was the promise of reward money.

"Our motto is we hope to God you never call us, but we are trained and ready if you do," said Mark Chmielinski, Burlington County K-9 Search and Rescue.

For Burlington County K-9 Search and Rescue that frantic call came in early December by Clementon, Camden County police. Authorities needed their expertise to help find Lt. James Lance, a Marine who suddenly went missing on Dec. 2.

"Burlington County K-9 Search and Rescue is a 100 percent volunteer organization," said Chmielinski.

Mark Chmielinski later learned the family was also raising $5,000. The description reads in part: "Any information provided that directly results in finding Lance will be rewarded with the funds raised from this GoFundMe account."

Over a dozen volunteers, including several fellow Marines, jumped into action searching and scouring acres of rugged land in the frigid cold, including Bottom Lake. On the fourth search effort, they recovered the 29-year-old's body.

"We brought Lance home just like we brought numerous other people home," said Chmielinski.

The Lance family later said they would not be giving them the reward money. But rather putting the $6,000 that was ultimately raised toward funeral expenses and costs for the Marine's 5-year-old daughter. The family would not go on camera, but told Action News the reward was for information on Lance, not his body.

"We want to be able to take this experience and pay it forward to the next person," said Tom Yohnnson, Burlington County K-9 Search and Rescue.

Chmielinski and Yohnnson say it's bigger than the money. They say it's about keeping your word.

As for the donors who pitched in for what was originally a reward?

"If you want to make a donation know where that donation goes," said Yohnnson.

The family says it has offered a much smaller, less-specified donation, but the organization tells us they have not gotten word of that.

The family has also offered in an updated GoFundMe page to give donors a refund. null
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