Imagine pretending to be sick or injured just to receive attention. While it seems strange, there's actually a psychiatric disorder called Munchausen syndrome that describes people who do just that. And, in some cases, the person with Munchausen inflicts injury or illness on someone else - often a child - for the same reasons.
Munchausen by proxy is a sadistic disorder that causes caregivers to hurt others for their own benefit. Because the perpetrators are frequently mothers, it is usually a long time before doctors or authorities suspect anything at all. Although the motive is generally to elicit emotional sympathy and attention - not murder - there are many true stories of Munchausen by proxy that end in death.
These true Munchausen by proxy cases are horrifying and sad, and these stories can seriously mess with your head.
Lacey Spears Found Guilty of Poisoning Son With Salt
Mommy blogger Lacey Spears went to prison for murdering her son with fatal levels of sodium.
Spears was giving her son high levels of sodium through a feeding tube that caused him to become very sick. She said her son Garnett had numerous illnesses. During this time, he was in and out of 20 different medical facilities, none of which were given information about Garnett's other hospital visits.
Then, in 2014, the sodium reached such a high level, Garnett was placed on a life flight to another hospital. Unfortunately, his brain suffered irreparable swelling and he was pronounced brain dead.
Suspicions about Spears arose among the medical personnel. They launched an investigation and searched her home. Police found medicine bottles sitting behind a canister of salt, and later recovered two bags of breast milk that Spears used to feed Garnett through his feeding tube with fatal levels of sodium in them.
She was found guilty of depraved-indifference murder of a child and sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.
Leslie Wilfred and Her Endless Lies
In 2008, Leslie Wilfred called her husband Chris from a Georgia hospital room with news that their twins were stillborn five months into Leslie's pregnancy. A service was held for the twins with photos of their ultrasounds and two matching teddy bear-shaped urns. Family and friends gathered to mourn and show their support.
Leslie and Chris Wilfred had four children from previous relationships, all of whom suffered from a slew of psychological and medical conditions, according to their parents. Their drama-filled history raised suspicions with the authorities. It all came to a head after the babies' deaths and resulted in a full-blown investigation.
While filing through her computer, police discovered Wilfred had ordered the urns five days before the “death” of her children. Investigators also discovered that Wilfred had her tubes tied before marrying Chris, she was never pregnant with twins, and her other claims made about her actual children's terminal health issues were not true.
Wilfred was sentenced to eight years in prison and 30 years of probation for child abuse.
Blanca Montano: Mom Turned Monster
Blanca Montano was only 21 when she was arrested for harming her two children. In February 2011, she had both kids admitted into an Arizona hospital. Soon, Montano’s son drastically improved and was released. Her newborn daughter, however, only became sicker over the course of her hospital stay. She was diagnosed with an array of rare conditions that worsened, nurses noticed, after time spent alone with Montano.
Police were alerted of the hospitals suspicions, and an investigation revealed that Montano had intentionally poisoned her daughter, causing the infections in order to garner attention and sympathy.
Once Montano and her child were separated, the infant’s condition improved drastically. Montano was arrested for child abuse.
Cancer, Unborn Twins, And Cystic Fibrosis: Hope Ybarra's Hopeless Lies
Hope Ybarra, a former chemist, was a mother of three suffering from her third bout with cancer. She blogged about her illness as well as her daughter's terminal cystic fibrosis. So when Ybarra became pregnant with twins and subsequently lost them 5 months into the pregnancy, the family and their community were absolutely wrought with grief.
It wasn’t until the police got involved that the truth began spilling out in massive, sadistic waves: Hope was clear of any and all cancer, her daughter did not suffer from cystic fibrosis, and there was never a pregnancy with twins. Ybarra had poisoned her child with pathogens, tampered with sweat tests to ensure the medical results she wanted, and even periodically drained the child’s blood. This last step caused the most bodily harm and, on one occasion, caused her daughter to go into anaphylactic shock.
Hope was tried and convicted of child abuse and sentenced to ten years in prison.