Lacey Spears portrayed herself as a loving and devoted mother. Looking for compassion, she was documenting on social media her son’s battle with a mysterious illness. An illness which wasn’t so mysterious after all. According to the coroner, the blogger mom used lethal doses of salt to kill her five-year-old son Garnett-Paul Thompson Spears. Eventually, putting a lethal amount of salt into the hospitalized son’s feeding tube, all that while posting pictures and updates to her Facebook, was what killed little Garnett.
The question on everyone’s mind – what was the motive for the crime, was answered by an assistant district attorney Patricia Murphy during her closing argument: “She apparently craved the attention of her family, her friends, her co-workers and most particularly the medical profession. The motive is bizarre, the motive is scary, but it exists.”
Lacey was active on social media, mainly on her Facebook page which is now gone for good, searching for Lacey Spears you can only find kind of a support group for her called Mothers 4 Lacey Spears.
It turned out Spears lied about everything, she claimed the father of a boy was a police officer named Blake who died in a car accident. Biological father Chris Hill is still alive and well. The blog lacey made, devoted its only two posts to the loss of Blake. Chillingly, she chose an ominous tagline for her blog: “Healing takes courage, and we all have courage, even if we have to dig a little to find it.”
And a Twitter account, where a lot of tweets are about her son’s health. On 11 November 2009, she wrote: “My sweet angel is in the hospital for the 23rd time :( Please pray he gets to come home soon…”
Spears decided not testify at the trial and was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.
Munchausen syndrome is a psychiatric factitious disorder wherein those affected pretend illness or psychological trauma to draw attention and compassion to reassurance to themselves. Munchausen syndrome by proxy, on the other hand, refers to the abuse of another person, typically a child, in order to seek attention or sympathy for the abuser. Typically the mother is the perpetrator in need for sympathy, atleast in 76.5% of the cases, Spears seems to fit into the latter category well.
Besides Lacey Spears, there are other notable cases. For an example Julie Gregory, raised by a mother diagnosed with the illness, she was forced to act sicker than she was and exaggerate her symptoms, so that her mother could take her to doctors, demanding increasingly invasive procedures. When Julie became older and realized what was happening, she tried to tell people about it, but no one listened. Instead, she was blamed for making up stories about her parents. Thankfully, she didn’t end up dead like Garnett Spears.
In 2003, she wrote an autobiography Sickened: The Memoir of a Münchausen by Proxy Childhood about the child abuse inflicted on her by her mother.