NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A mother has been charged in Westchester County with systematically poisoning her 5-year-old son to death.
Lacey Spears, 26, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of second-degree depraved murder and first-degree manslaughter, CBS 2’s Lou Young reported. Her son, Garnett, who was fitted with a feeding tube because of nourishment issues, died in January of sodium poisoning at Westchester Medical Center, authorities said.
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Authorities believe the mother tortured her son medically for years and might have suffered from Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a psychiatric illness in which a parent sickens a child to gain attention and sympathy. Spears often blogged about Garnett’s deteriorating medical condition.
The case could be the first invovling Munchausen syndrome by proxy in the Internet age, Young reported.
Prosecutors on Tuesday said Spears fed her son lethal amounts of salt and that the mother had conducted Internet research about the effects salt would have on the boy. Garnett was brought to Nyack Hospital on Jan. 17 with seizure-like symptoms before being transferred to Westchester Medical Center on Jan. 19 after his sodium levels rose with no medical explanation. At the request of doctors, the state Office of Children and Family Services had already launched an investigation into whether Spears was harming her son before Garnett died Jan. 23, prosecutors said.