After months of investigation, Westchester authorities have charged a mother with killing her sick child. A prosecutor said, "This mother was intentionally feeding her son salt in toxic levels." Lacey Spears, 26, faces second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter charges.
According to prosecutors, when five-year-old Garnett Spears was taken to Nyack Hospital for seizures on January 17 and, then on January 19, Spears "took Garnett into the hospital room's private bathroom and administered the sodium into a tube in the boy's stomach." Further, the Journal News reports, "[Assistant District Attorney Doreen] Lloyd said prosecutors know from computer records that Spears had searched the Internet to research what the effects of salt would be on her son."
The boy was transferred to Westchester Medical Center after his sodium levels were found to be dangerously high. The Times says, "Two days later, he was barely breathing, his pupils were blown and his skin was a pale gray color. Garnett died on Jan. 23." Doctors at the hospital suspected Spears may have been contributing to her son's poor condition and contacted the authorities.
Spears, who moved to Chestnut Ridge, NY's Fellowship Community a few years ago, had documented her son's struggles and illnesses on social media and on a blog. The Journal News, which has a five-part series about the case, notes that investigators are looking the chilling possibility that Spears killed Garnett for attention:
The probe into Garnett's death has focused on a rare psychological disorder, Munchausen by proxy, in which parents harm their children to win attention and sympathy. While the cause for the disorder is not known, one theory, cited in a report on the National Institutes of Health website, is that certain people with the disorder were the victims of abuse or neglect themselves. The combination of possible abuse and a capacity for lying — another trait of Munchausen by proxy, which is technically known as "factitious disorder imposed on another" — can make it difficult to tell where the truth lies...
Growing up, Spears had an American Girl doll, loved Lifetime movies and the syrupy comfort of her favorite show, the drama "Seventh Heaven," about a minister, his stay-at-home wife and their seven children, where problems were presented and resolved in 60 minutes.
[T]he childhood Spears depicted had a dramatic, darker side. She would tell friends disturbing stories of abuse, abortion and anorexia. The stories got so far out that some friends even planned an intervention of sorts, to confront Spears about her apparent lies and and help her change her ways - back when she was starting high school.
Spears wrote about Garnett's father, "Blake," and told social media followers that he died; however, close friends believe she made him up. The man who says he's Garnett's father tried in vain to get in touch with Spears about Garnett.
Further, Garnett apparently had a feeding tube for many years, but the Journal News reported:
Gastric feeding tubes are most commonly recommended for children with serious illnesses including short gut syndrome, a chronic condition diagnosed soon after birth in which the body can't properly absorb nutrients. Other conditions include a swallowing problem or a neurological illness or injury that makes swallowing difficult. Even in those cases, it a temporary treatment.
Youngsters born with severe heart problems sometimes are put on a feeding tube until they have corrective surgery.
There is no evidence that Garnett Spears had any of those conditions.
Spears pleaded not guilty. She is being held without bail.