An Iowa mother-of-five was arrested and charged with child endangerment after she allegedly lied about her daughter’s terminal cancer in order to steal donations from the community.
Leatha Kaye Slauson, 30, claimed her 5-year-old daughter Riley was suffering from life-threatening colorectal cancer “that has also spread to her liver.” She’s facing one count of child endangerment and a charge of distribution of drugs to a child under the age of 18, Atlantic police said Friday.
Authorities say that Slauson was giving Riley cannabis oil and that she obtained the oil illegally.
Images of Riley with a shaved head and tubes in her nose were posted online by her mother, dubbing the little girl “Super Riley.” Slauson wrote on her GoFundMe page “with 5 kids and 4 being special needs and medical bills and medical equiptment [sic] is adding up.”
The alleged hoax came to light when Slauson registered Riley for school and authorities learned Riley had never been to a doctor.
Atlantic Police Chief Steven Green said all of Riley’s medical records and doctor’s appointments were in other cities and some out of state. When the school district tried to put together a care plan for the girl none of her medical contacts panned out.
"During the past year, the local community, as well as others around Cass County and beyond, have rallied to help the family financially, and to make what was believed to be the child's remaining time as enjoyable as possible,” a police statement said. “Individuals and organizations have organized fundraisers and a trip to Disney World in order to assist the family through what was believed to be a difficult time.”
Slauson is being held in Cass County Jail pending further investigation.
Her husband now has full custody of their five children. Her family packed up and left their home Friday morning, KETV reported.
Authorities said Friday that Slauson had her own family convinced of the ruse.
Cass County Attorney Dan Gesitner said her husband is now “struggling with how to proceed in his life.”
It is unclear how much money has been collected over the hoax, but KETV says it has reported on numerous fundraisers for Riley.
“(The cancer) is just spreading too fast,” Slauson told KETV in April. “It spread to her liver and the last MRI (showed) it spread to her lymph nodes and they stopped chemotherapy.”
“I don't think the hearts of this community will he hardened by this,” Green said.
The Atlantic Fire Department, which made Riley an honorary fire fighter release the following statement:
"The Atlantic Fire Department is saddened to hear of the events surrounding the family of Super Riley. This is now a family and legal matter. Riley was made an honorary member of our department because of her desire to become a firefighter someday, and our desire to make her dream come true. Under the current circumstances she needs our support more than ever and will remain an honorary member and we wish her nothing but the best in her future."