A 26 year old single mother Lacey Spears appeared in court on Tuesday charged with killing her five year old son Garnett with salt.
Five days before he died, Garnett-Paul Spears' sodium hit lethal levels without any medical explanation. Two days later, hospital staff found him unresponsive and barely breathing. He died a few days later.
After medical records found that the boy had been hospitalized 23 times in five years, alarm bells started ringing. Police believe the boy was killed by his own mother and suspect she is suffering from Munchauser's syndrome by proxy - the bizarre mental illness where a mother deliberately makes her child sick to gain sympathy and attention. It's alleged that she posted pictures of him lying in his hospital bed as he lay dying.
Police said she searched the internet to research what effects salt would have on her son and began poisoning him for sympathy and attention. Prosecutors will attempt to prove that she took her son into the hospital room's private bathroom and administered the sodium into a feeding tube in the boy's stomach.
Her neighbour, who chooses to remain anonymous, said that as her son lay dying, she asked her to go to her home and dispose of one of the boy's feeding bags, which allegedly contained a large amount of sodium. The neighbour said that although she initially removed the bag, she turned it over to police when she heard of the suspicious circumstances surrounding his death.
Experts say that in the case of Munchausen by proxy, the child will be sick enough to have a feeding tube or intravenous line into the body that gives the abuser easy access. A feeding tube is a red flag and Garnett had one.
Munchausen syndrome by proxy is a mental illness very hard to understand because a mother's love is arguably the most passionate love of all.
Spears attorney David Sachs denied his client had anything to do with her son's death. "Lacey is completely devastated by the loss of her son and absolutely denies harming him in any way" he said.
She has pleaded not guilty and is being held without bail at Westchester County jail. She is due back in court on July 2.
Edit: Today, 3 March 2015, Lacey Spears was found guilty of second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter in the death of her 5 year old son Garnett who died on 23rd January 2014.
Prosecutor Doreen Lloyd said "Lacey Spears is a calculating child killer who researched, planned and executed the intentional poisoning of her son Garnett Spears with salt. She is no longer the mother of Garnett Spears because she murdered him."