A woman who built a large online following blogging about her young son’s health problems could soon be charged with killing that son. Police suspect Lacey Spears, 26, poisoned her son through his feeding tube, killing him via a sodium overdose.
“It's evident by the nature of what was found in his body that somebody, in effect, poisoned him,” a source close to the situation told Fox News. "He [Garnett] died at the hands of somebody else."
Before his death, five-year-old Garnett Spears was affectionately called “Garnett the Great” by his mother’s online followers. Spears routinely blogged about her son’s chronic health problems and built a large, sympathetic audience doing so. The blog, titled “Garnett’s Journey” was subtitled with the words “Healing takes courage, and we all have courage, even if we have to dig a little to find it.”
Garnett was hospitalized 23 times in his short life, and Spears was constantly updating her social media circles about his progress – or lack thereof.
Following Garnett’s death, a source says Spears asked a neighbor to throw away all evidence of feeding tubes in her home.
"She wanted the neighbor to dispose of incriminating evidence," the source said. "The neighbor never did get rid of it and police seized it."
Police searched through Spears’ home and interviewed a number of people in her community during their investigation. At some point they were put in contact with the Florida Department of Children and Families, which reportedly revealed that Spears had several complaints leveled against her when she lived in Florida. In 2011, for example, a concerned person called the department with concerns about Spears’ parenting.
The most troubling aspect of Spears’ case is that Garnett was never diagnosed with any medical condition. He was not prescribed a feeding tube by doctors -- Spears put one in. The reasons for his hospital visits varied constantly. He never tested positive for any condition. Upon being admitted to the hospital, he frequently experienced drastic recoveries from whatever was ailing him -- only to succumb to something new and unexpected just weeks later. All together, police believe the evidence may point to a disorder in Spears – not Garnett – that would explain his health problems. The disorder?
Munchausen by proxy.
Munchausen by proxy is a psychiatric disorder in which a parent or caretaker purposefully hurts a child to gain attention. Garnett’s unexplained health problems and Spears’ chronic exploitation of these problems for online attention certainly fit the profile. Even as Garnett was in excruciating pain and on the brink of death, Spears was busy posting detailed, frequent updates about him on the web.
"These are people who are desperate for attention and seek it through creating a sensational scenario," Dr. Manny Alvarez said about people with the disorder. "…the parent is seen as almost a hero. The reality is that they do these actions being aware that they're lying.”
Authorities in New York and Florida are sharing all available information they have with each other. Any charges against Spear are expected to be announced soon.