Kentucky Mother Accused Of Murder May Suffer From Munchausen Syndrome

Jun 18, 2014

A woman who resided in Lexington has turned herself in to authorities in Westchester NY in connection with the death of her five-year-old son. 

It has been suggested that she may have suffered from a rare  mental illness known as Munchausen by proxy syndrome.The disorder  involves a parent, usually the mother, garnering attention and sympathy through the sickness and suffering of her child.

Lacey Spears, a former Lexington resident showed up in a Westchester court yesterday, accused of poisoning her son with a lethal dose of salt.  If Spears is found guilty and lawyers prove the presence of Munchausen, it will be the first documented case in the internet age.

Dr. Timothy Allen with the UK Dept. of Psychiatry is not surprised.

"We have set up a new kind of expectation for what kind of interactions people have, so it's not shocking to me that if average normal people get so much of their social fulfillment through these digital means that somebody who's ill or doesn't do it very well would still use the same means," he says.

Spears moved around a lot. Kentucky was only one of her stopping points.Dr. Allen thinks there's a reason.

"The family members may have been able to notice if she had stayed around long enough... That was an indication that kind of protected her from being caught by anybody, if these allegations are true," Allen says.

One push is to classify the disorder as medical abuse for the ramifications it can have on the children and other victims. I’m Lillie Ruschell for WUKY news.