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Lacey Spears, the mother who poisoned her own child

Lacey was sentenced to 20 years in prison for killing her son, 5-year-old Garnett. And amazingly, she poisoned him with high amounts of salt.

Lacey Spears became known for poisoning her own child. She appeared to be a normal person, there didn’t seem to be anything wrong with her, she even worked as a nanny and also in a day care center during her teenage years, she appeared to love children.

According to reports, she dreamed of being a mother, so she became pregnant with her first and only child in 2008, at the age of twenty, the baby was named Garnett-Paul Thompson Spears.

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Garnett’s first days of life

At only 9 days old, Garnett became very ill, and even had to be hospitalized.

He was growing, but his health problems did not diminish, and he was frequently hospitalized. The doctors never got a diagnosis 100% right, they said that the set of symptoms that the baby presented was almost unbelievable.

Garnett had high fever, ear infections, convulsions, and gastrointestinal problems. The cause of the illnesses was always very uncertain.

8 months old, feeding tube

Nearing his eight-month birthday, Garnett again suffers another hospital admission. According to his mother, he was not eating, he was losing weight, and she did not know what else to do.

At Lacey’s request, through a medical procedure a feeding tube was inserted into Garnett.

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A while later, Lacey continued with the same complaint, Garnett was still not eating. The doctors, desperate not knowing how to act, once again accepted the mother’s request.

So Garnett had surgery again, this time for a procedure that prevented him from vomiting. This way his mother could feed him without him regurgitating food.

Lacey was always using social networks

Lacey Spears was extremely active on social media, especially Facebook.

She also kept a blog called “Garnett’s Journey“. There she shared details of Garnett’s hospitalizations, photos in the hospital, and what they were going through.

In one of these accounts she laments about Garnett’s nutrition. She states that even after the surgical procedures he was not feeding himself, and that he would undergo yet another surgery, this time a gastrostomy.

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In 2010, mother and son moved from Alabama to Florida, where they would be near Lacey’s grandmother. At this time the mother got a financial benefit from the government and also worked as a cleaner.

Living in a community

In Florida Lacey heard about a community called the Fellowship Community. There they basically cared for the elderly, contributed to community services, and in return earned housing, food, and education for their children.

She moves to this location while Garnett was three years old. It seemed like the ideal place to raise a child. The two adapted very well to the place and Garnett quickly made many friends.

Once one of the families took their children and Garnett to lunch at a restaurant near the community. The boy was known to have difficulty eating, but to the surprise of the adults, that day he ate desperately and even asked to repeat the meal.

From this some people began to question what Lacey was talking about, and also to ask who Garnett’s father was. She told everyone that the boy’s father was named Blake, a police officer, but had died in a car accident and at the time of the accident they were engaged. Stories about Blake were also common on the blog. Lacey used to post that she missed him and wished he was there.

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It is believed that this was the happiest period in Garnett’s life, life in the community was great, but his mother kept firming up the need to maintain the feeding tube.

5 years old, new hospitalization

In January 2014 Garnett had to be hospitalized again, this time he had a high fever and a severe headache. He was kept under observation, a few hours later his temperature went down and his headache subsided, so they were released home.

A few days later Garnett returns to the hospital with his mother, showing the same symptoms, but this time including convulsions. The doctors monitored the boy’s brain activity, but while he was there he did not have any further seizures.

The next day Garnett had intense stomach pains, he tried to vomit but couldn’t because of the surgery he had undergone. Quickly the boy stopped breathing, and the sodium tests that indicated a quantity of 182mEq/L, and when he arrived at the hospital this value was 138mEq/L, such a quantity could lead to death.

The boy’s condition was stabilized and he was taken to a specialized hospital. There the doctors were able to normalize his sodium level, and Garnett again responded well to treatment.

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In this hospital they stayed for two days, the boy improved a lot and was ready to be discharged. Then, on Sunday morning, the nurse talks to Lacey and informs her that Garnett will probably be discharged that same day.

There was a security camera in the room, and Lacey consented to have them filmed during the hospitalization. The footage looked normal, the mother playing with Garnett, sleeping next to him, doing hygiene care.

About ten minutes after the nurse leaves, Garnett starts to feel very bad. The boy had barely recovered from the last episode, this time his brain began to swell, his body stopped responding, and he was put on life support.

Once again the sodium level was sky-high, and it was impossible that it was occurring naturally, without someone inducing it. Meanwhile, in her Facebook posts, Lacey Spears seemed not to believe what was happening, asking people to send prayers and good energy to Garnett.

The doctors begin to suspect Lacey. The police are called in.

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The lies are about to end

Two police teams were called to the case. One headed to Lacey’s home, while the other followed the investigation at the hospital.

While Lacey is talking to a policeman, his father, Garnett’s grandfather, arrives. At this point a policeman comments on what is happening and mentions that he is very sorry about the death of the boy’s father, Blake.

Grandpa looks confused and says “Who is Blake?

From this, he tells that Garnett’s real father is named Chris Hill. He was a neighbor of the family, and had a short relationship with Lacey.

And the Blake that Lacey used to talk about really existed. His name was Blake Robinson, he was in fact a police officer in Alabama and to everyone’s surprise he was alive and well. Blake said that he only went out with Lacey a few times, but they never had a relationship.

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He did not know about these stories or the blog posts where she claimed that he was Garnett’s father.

Garnett’s house search

When the police enter the house, they find several bottles of medicine that correspond to treatments for Garnett’s illnesses. On the dresser, next to the medicines, there was a can of salt.

Inside the trash were found feeding bags with a white liquid, which matched Lacey’s claims that the boy was still being fed on breast milk. At first there was nothing in the house that would really help the investigations.

Testimony of a neighbor

The other day, while the officers were questioning Lacey again, a neighbor named Valerie contacted the police and told them that on the day Garnett became very ill, Lacey called her and asked her to throw away, as soon as possible, a bag of food that was in her house and not to comment to anyone about it. And so she did.

But Valerie had kept the bag in her house, the police collected this evidence along with the bag of breast milk left there on the day of the search. Both were sent to the laboratory for analysis.

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Two days after he became ill, Garnett was pronounced dead. His brain was badly swollen, he had a few cardiac arrests, and the devices that were keeping him alive were turned off.

Lab result

The samples sent to the laboratory had a high sodium content, in one of them the quantity found corresponded to 69 small packets of salt. The quantities were lethal.

Once again Lacey was interrogated, the policemen asked her how there could be so much salt in the body of a 5 year old child. She answered that this questioning should be asked of the doctors, and not of her, a mother who was already suffering so much.

10 weeks after Garnett’s death, the coroner confirmed that the case was a homicide and the prime suspect was Lacey Spears.

Then the police look for Chris Hill, the boy’s father, and discover that Lacey had made up several stories about him. According to Chris, he had always wanted to be present in Garnett’s life; he even has another son and is very involved in his upbringing.

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Footage hospital room

Analyzing the evidence, the part of the video recorded just after the nurse left, which communicated to Lacey about the hospital discharge, particularly catches the investigators’ attention.

In the images it is possible to see that the mother takes the boy to the bathroom and closes the door. Soon after they leave, the symptoms that led to Garnett’s death begin.

Prosecution, mother mental health and sentencing

On June 17, 2014, after a thorough investigation, Lacey Spears was arrested.

Although not formally diagnosed, Lacey has been attributed with the rare Munchausen Syndrome by proxy, a disorder in which a child’s guardian purposely harms the child just to gain sympathy and attention for himself. The same disease that made a daughter kill her mother in this case.

On March 2, 2015, the jury found Lacey guilty of murdering her son by poisoning him with cooking salt, which she slowly administered through his feeding tube.

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On April 8 of that year, Judge Robert Neary sentenced her to 20 years in prison, and she was sent to the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women in New York City.