Some parents are so desperate for attention or money that they decide to pretend that their child is extremely ill. This is known as Munchausen syndrome by proxy.
The parents drag the child from doctor to doctor, demanding that their kid be treated for a nonexistent illness. These children are often pumped full of unneeded medicine and forced to undergo unnecessary procedures. Their parents enjoy praise for caring for the child and often receive money from concerned people.
10 Jessica Good
Jessica Good spent years pretending that her youngest daughter had cancer. The woman started the scam when her daughter was only a few months old and quickly convinced her family that the girl was dying.
Good claimed that her daughter had numerous health issues, including lymphoma, seizures, a nut allergy, and cerebral palsy. She also said that the girl was on the heart transplant waiting list.
Good set up several fundraisers and GoFundMe accounts, and she asked people in her hometown to donate money. People jumped at the chance to help the sick child. A golf fundraiser raised $12,000, a local photography studio collected $3,100, and the family’s church gave them at least $5,000. Good also scammed the Department of Human Services out of more than $45,000 in state assistance.
After four years of fundraising, people became suspicious. The girl never lost her hair, and she seemed surprising healthy. Good’s church warned police of possible fraud. The police spoke to the girl’s doctors, and they found no evidence that the girl had any of the health issues Good had claimed.
She was arrested and pleaded guilty. Ultimately, Good was sentenced to three years in prison and 20 years of probation, and she was ordered to pay $69,565 in restitution.
9 Teresa Milbrandt
Teresa Milbrandt told everyone her that seven-year-old daughter, Hannah, had leukemia. Teresa shaved Hannah’s hair, made her wear a protective mask, and put her in counseling to prepare her for death. Teresa would tell Hannah that they were going to the hospital to receive treatment, give her daughter a sleeping pill, and then tell her that she had received treatment while she was asleep.
This ruse fooled 65 people and businesses into giving the Milbrandts around $31,000. After nine months, employees at Hannah’s school noticed that the girl’s hair was not falling out. It had been cut or shaved. They reported the situation to family services, who contacted the police.
Teresa confessed. She said that she had concocted the scheme to keep her husband from leaving. “I knew how much he cared about Hannah, and if she’s sick, I thought, he’s not going to leave us. I just said she had cancer, and next thing I know, people were giving me money,” Teresa explained.
Teresa was sentenced to 6.5 years in prison. Her husband, Robert, claimed that he did not know the diagnosis was fabricated. However, he was sentenced to four years and 11 months. The couple was also ordered to pay $34,400 in restitution.
Hannah was placed in foster care. Her mother’s deception caused severe mental health issues for the child. She attempted suicide multiple times as a teenager before she sought help for her depression. Her mental health has significantly improved since then.
8 Wendi Michelle Scott
Wendi Michelle Scott had twice pretended that she had cancer. Scott removed the hair on her head and eyebrows and used a wheelchair or walker to get around. After having a child, she quit the ruse about herself and turned her attention to her young daughter.
Scott poisoned the child with magnesium and used syringes to remove the girl’s blood. At least three times, the child’s blood volume was dangerously low—twice dropping to half the normal level. As a result, she needed transfusions to save her life. Scott’s actions also caused her daughter to suffer from severe diarrhea, blood loss, vomiting, high fever, and a rapid heart rate.
During three years of inpatient and outpatient treatments, the child underwent 72 procedures. None of them were necessary. When doctors detected the girl’s high magnesium levels, they realized she may have been poisoned. They contacted child services, who confronted Scott. She confessed and pleaded guilty. Scott was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Her daughter improved after being separated from her mother. The girl gained weight, and she started “acting like a totally normal kid.” Unfortunately, the child still faces increased risks of cancer from repeated radiological tests, and she will always have scars from multiple surgeries.
7 Elisabeth Hunnicutt
Elisabeth Hunnicutt’s five-month-old son developed a flat spot on his head and experienced neck spasms. Hunnicutt told her husband that the boy had agenesis of the corpus callosum, a birth defect affecting the brain, and cerebral atrophy, a brain disease.
Hunnicutt began drugging the infant with clonidine—her older son’s autism medicine—to mimic symptoms of hydrocephalus (water on the brain). She told doctors that the younger boy was extremely unresponsive and slept almost all day. Doctors drilled a hole in his skull and placed a monitor on his brain. They found no sign of fluid.
Her mother-in-law caught Hunnicutt feeding the sick child yogurt that contained a blue pill, and the mother-in-law told her son. Hunnicutt’s husband confronted his wife, and she confessed to giving the boy his brother’s autism medicine.
The husband called the police, and she was arrested. Hunnicutt pleaded guilty, and she was sentenced to 10 years of probation. She also terminated her parental rights to her two sons.
Her son went from sleeping 20 hours a day (as Hunnicutt had reported), having a gastric feeding tube, and taking 10–20 medications to being a normal, healthy, active two-year-old within two weeks of separation from his mother.
6 Katelyn Christina Carnline
Katelyn Carnline fooled people into believing her five-year-old son had cancer. She shaved his head and posted pictures of him wearing a breathing mask. Sympathetic people donated $2,000 to help cover medical costs for the boy.
After she was outed as a fraud, Carnline turned her attentions to her infant daughter. Carnline began starving the newborn to make her appear sick and claimed that the girl suffered from a rare genetic disorder called inborn errors metabolism. She created a fundraising page and received $150.
Carnline brought her infant to the hospital and claimed that the girl was having seizures. Doctors noticed the infant’s weight was dangerously low, and they hospitalized her for several days. Carnline was responsible for feeding the baby in the hospital, and the infant did not gain weight. Doctors surgically inserted a feeding tube in the baby’s stomach and released her.
A few months later, Carnline brought the girl to the hospital again. They baby was still extremely underweight. Doctors kept the child under their care for several days. They noticed that the girl never had a seizure and that she gained a considerable amount of weight.
Doctors alerted CPS, who contacted the police. They arrested Carnline and placed her children with family.
5 Monika Burgett
Monika Burgett’s son, Jackson, was born premature at 25 weeks. He only weighed .91 kilograms (2 lb), and his eyes had not yet opened. Jackson was in the neonatal intensive care for three months, and he was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder that may cause benign tumors.
Monika exaggerated her son’s condition. She claimed that he had brain cancer and told a neighbor that doctors “weren’t sure he was going to make it through the night.” Monika shaved Jackson’s eyebrows and head, stuck tubes up his nose, and posted his picture on GoFundMe. She raised $40,000.
Then Monika brought her son to the hospital and told doctors that Jackson was in pain and was having trouble getting food and oxygen. The hospital gave her son unnecessary oxygen, feeding tubes, and opioids.
Monika had pretended to be a doctor for more than a decade, and she managed to fool the hospital as well. She “became a member of the healthcare team” and managed to convince doctors to perform brain surgery on Jackson twice.
Doctors eventually suspected her of lying about the boy’s symptoms and reported her to family services. She was arrested, and Jackson was put into his father’s care. The boy quickly recovered from his mother’s abuse, and he no longer needs pain medication.
4 Emily Creno-King
Emily Creno-King told everyone that her four-year-old son, John (aka JJ), suffered from a rare form of cancer. She shaved JJ’s head and made him wear a mask in public. Emily brought him to a hospital where he underwent more than 20 blood tests and six radiographic studies. JJ spent about 150 hours over four months undergoing inpatient EEG monitoring, and he was prescribed medication for seizures based on his mother’s claims.
Emily posted her son’s struggles on multiple Facebook pages. She claimed that JJ had brain cancer and that “he had 18 months to live.” Emily received sympathy and offers of financial assistance from dozens of Facebook users.
A mother of a child with leukemia noticed that something seemed off with JJ’s story. She called the police, who realized that Emily had faked JJ’s illness. Emily confessed, saying that she had made up the illness to save her marriage. She was sentenced to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay $3,000 in restitution.
3 Leatha Kaye Slauson
Leatha Slauson claimed that her five-year-old daughter had cancer. Slauson gave her child cannabis oil and Neupogen, a cancer drug that gave the girl cramps and joint pain. The mother also inserted a feeding tube into her child’s nose and stomach.
The community rallied around the sick girl. Slauson received around $30,000 from people who wanted to help her daughter. The family was gifted a trip to Disney World, and her daughter was made an honorary fireman.
School officials looked into what special care the girl would need. However, the school nurse noticed a lack of documentation supporting a cancer diagnosis. They notified the police. Slauson confessed that her daughter did not have cancer.
Slauson admitted that she had claimed her daughter had terminal cancer to collect donations, and she pleaded guilty. Slauson was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to receive mental health treatment. She is not allowed to have contact with her children.
2 Hope Ybarra
Hope Ybarra told her family and friends that she was diagnosed with bone cancer. She claimed that it had spread to her brain and lungs and destroyed her hearing. Ybarra learned sign language and later got a cochlear implant. She even moved to Alabama for eight months for treatment that she claimed she could get nowhere else.
After Ybarra’s second child was born, she told her family that the girl had been diagnosed with cerebral palsy. The child needed to wear ankle bracelets for more than a year. However, the girl was miraculously cured of the disease around the time that her sister was born.
Ybarra’s third child was born 10 weeks premature, and she spent several months in the neonatal unit. Once her daughter recovered, Ybarra watered down the baby’s formula so she did not gain weight.
Ybarra insisted her daughter be tested for cystic fibrosis. The test checks for elevated sodium levels, and Ybarra used a nasal spray under her daughter’s bandage to interfere with the test. The child tested positive.
Ybarra, who worked as a chemist, stole pathogens from work and poisoned her daughter with them. The child went into anaphylactic shock, which can be fatal. Medical staff placed a central line in the girl’s body to have easy access to her blood. Ybarra used a syringe to remove her daughter’s blood and dumped it. The child began suffering from episodes of anemia.
Ybarra spent four years torturing her daughter, who underwent 30–40 unneeded hospital procedures. Friends and family believed that Ybarra was a loving, brave, and fearless mother.
Hope Ybarra’s physician asked her father for Hope’s cancer medical records. He could not find them. Then the father asked Hope’s husband, who also could find no records of her illness. Hope’s father confronted his daughter. She confessed to faking cancer and said, “It’s the only time [her husband] pays any attention to me.”
Hope’s father began to wonder about his granddaughter’s diagnosis. He asked CPS to give his grandchild another series of sweat tests, and they were negative. Hope was barred from contact with her children and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Her daughter began to thrive, and she was deemed 100 percent healthy.
1 Dee Dee Blanchard
When Dee Dee Blanchard’s baby, Gypsy Rose, was three months old, Dee Dee told doctors that her daughter was not breathing properly. Gypsy was diagnosed with sleep apnea and given a breathing apparatus.
When Gypsy was seven, Dee Dee told her family that Gypsy had a chromosomal disorder and would need to use a wheelchair. Gypsy soon developed several more health issues. Her weight was too low, and she needed a feeding tube inserted. She was diagnosed with epilepsy and given a drug that made her teeth fall out. Dee Dee claimed that Gypsy had a limited mental capacity and decided to homeschool her daughter after the second grade.
Dee Dee managed to use Gypsy’s condition to their advantage. They appeared on local news shows, they were given several trips to Disney World, country music star Miranda Lambert gave them $6,000, and Habitat for Humanity helped them to get a home.
When Gypsy was in her early twenties, she began to feel lonely. She signed up for a dating site and met Nicholas Godejohn. Nicholas pushed for an in-person meeting, and Gypsy agreed to meet him.
Gypsy went with her mother to see a movie where she ran into Nicholas and acted as if she was meeting a stranger. The couple sneaked away to consummate their relationship in the bathroom. When she got out, her mother was furious and forbade her from ever seeing him again.
The mother started to treat her daughter more cruelly, and Gypsy asked Nicholas, “Would you kill my mother for me?” She gave him gloves and a knife, and he stabbed Dee Dee to death. The pair fled to his parents’ home.
Gypsy was worried that her mother’s body would rot and decided to write a confession on their shared Facebook page to alert authorities. She wrote, “That B—- is dead.” She hoped that the police would assume that a random person had committed the murder.
Police traced the IP address, and Gypsy eventually confessed. When she arrived at jail, she was sent to the infirmary to determine how they should treat her illnesses. The doctor gave her a clean bill of health.
Gypsy pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. The court took pity on her lifetime of abuse and gave her the 10-year minimum sentence.