(CBS4/AP) — A mother accused of murdering her 7-year-old daughter, after defrauding charities by claiming the girl was terminally ill, faced the next step in her criminal case on Friday. Kelly Renee Turner, 41, also known as Kelly Gant, had a motions hearing in Douglas County court.
For years, Turner presented her daughter as a dying girl with a host of diseases and a bucket list of wishes, seeking donations to help fulfill her dreams of catching a bad guy with police and being a firefighter.
The Make-A-Wish-Foundation threw a “bat princess” costume party at a hotel that cost $11,000.
Over several years, Turner would often tell doctors her daughter was sick. Olivia had surgeries, and Turner continued to give Olivia seizure medication with serious side effects after doctors found Olivia had no seizure condition and insisted she stop. Turner’s behavior raised suspicions.
In 2017, doctors at Children’s Hospital Colorado found that the 7-year-old was only getting 30 percent of the nutrition she needed. They couldn’t persuade Turner, described by one doctor as a “high maintenance mother,” to try anything besides artificial feeding.
Turner insisted her daughter enter hospice care, where Olivia died in 2017.
Olivia’s cause of death originally was listed as intestinal failure, but an autopsy done later found no evidence of that condition. Authorities have not said what killed her, but the indictment says that doctors went along with Turner’s push to stop feeding her daughter.
Only after Olivia died and Turner brought an older daughter to the same hospital with bone pain did doctors take a closer look.
They found news stories and online posts where Turner talked about diseases Olivia had that were not backed up by medical records. Turner claimed on a blog and a GoFundMe site that her daughter had a seizure disorder, a tumor and a buildup of fluid in the cavities deep within her brain.
Doctors contacted social workers, who launched an investigation that led to exhuming Olivia’s body. Her older sister was separated from her mother and has not had any pain since, according to the indictment.
Psychiatrists say Turner’s behavior seems consistent with Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a psychological disorder in which parents or caregivers seek attention from the illness of their children or dependents and sometimes cause them injuries that require attention.
Turner brought up the disorder on her own during an interview with investigators and denied that she had it.
A public defender representing her did not return a call seeking comment on the 13 criminal counts against her, including murder, child abuse, theft and charitable fraud. Public defenders typically do not speak to the media.
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