A Colorado mother who sought donations to cover medical treatments for her daughter and promoted the girl's "bucket list" of dreams to fulfill before she died has been indicted on a murder charge in the 7-year-old's death that was previously believed to be from a terminal disease.
In a grand jury indictment revealed Monday, Kelly Renee Turner, 41, also known as Kelly Gant, was charged with 13 criminal counts that included child abuse, theft and charitable fraud in the death of Olivia Gant in 2017.
The indictment alleges Turner caused Olivia Gant's death, not the multiple illnesses that the mother claimed the girl had and that prompted publicized ride-alongs with police and fire crews. The Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants wishes to critically ill children, also paid about $11,000 for a "bat princess" costume party for her.
Turner was arrested Friday at a Denver-area hotel and held without bond, the Douglas County Sheriff's Office said. It was not clear if she has an attorney who could speak on her behalf.
Olivia's actual cause of death was not immediately clear. It was originally attributed to intestinal failure, according to the indictment issued Thursday and first reported Monday by KUSA-TV.
Her body was exhumed last year, and an autopsy found no physical evidence of that illness or other conditions that Turner claimed the girl suffered, including seizure disorder and a buildup of fluid in cavities deep within the brain. Olivia's death is now listed as undetermined.
Investigators say Olivia had been using a feeding tube and was admitted in July 2017 to Children's Hospital Colorado, where doctors said her nutrition was deficient.
One doctor told investigators Turner wanted to withdraw all medical care and artificial feeding for her daughter because her quality of life was so poor. He said she insisted he sign a "do not resuscitate" order for her daughter.
Doctors had said Olivia wouldn't be able to survive on IV nutrition, and Turner was given the option of taking her home on hospice care, according to the indictment. Olivia died a few weeks later.
Several doctors who were interviewed said Olivia did not have a terminal condition. The girl started getting treatment at the hospital in 2013 after moving from Texas, where Turner's husband stayed behind.
The investigation into Olivia's death began when doctors at the hospital became suspicious last year after Turner brought in her older daughter because of "bone pain," according to the indictment.
During an interview, investigators said Turner spontaneously brought up 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.
"That has never been my case, like at all, whatsoever," she said in the interview.
During the investigation, authorities separated Turner from her older daughter to see if the girl would still report the same symptoms. The daughter has not had any additional medical problems or complaints of pain since October 2018, the indictment said.
It's not immediately clear how old the girl is or with whom she lives now.
The daughters were insured by Medicaid, and Turner is accused of fraudulently obtaining about $539,000 worth of care from the government-funded program.
Children's Hospital Colorado issued a statement saying it declined to comment to avoid compromising the case.
A Colorado mother accused of killing her daughter after withdrawing all medical care reached a plea deal Wednesday in exchange for having the murder charges dropped.
Kelly Turner, 42, instead admitted to taking part in felony theft, felony charity fraud and child abuse negligently causing death, according to the district attorney's office of the 18th Judicial District.
She previously pleaded not guilty to the 2017 murder of her seven-year-old daughter Olivia Gant.
A lawyer entered the plea on Turner's behalf during a virtual court hearing on December 15 from suburban Denver, Colorado.
Back in 2019, Turner was indicted with two counts of first-degree murder - two years after her daughter's death - due to Colorado law, which adds another charge when someone in a position of trust kills a child under the age of 12.
One doctor told investigators that Turner wanted to withdraw all medical care and artificial feeding for her daughter because her quality of life was so bad.
Another advised Turner to stop giving her daughter anti-seizure medicine, which carried serious side effects, The Denver Gazette reported.
A doctor told investigators that Turner wanted to withdraw all medical care and artificial feeding for her daughter because her quality of life was so bad before revealing that the mother had insisted that he sign a 'do not resuscitate' order for her daughter +9
A doctor told investigators that Turner wanted to withdraw all medical care and artificial feeding for her daughter because her quality of life was so bad before revealing that the mother had insisted that he sign a 'do not resuscitate' order for her daughter.
As per the agreement, Turner admitted to taking part in felony theft, felony charity fraud and child abuse negligently causing death, according to the district attorney's office of the 18th Judicial District.
He also said the mother had insisted that he sign a 'do not resuscitate' order for her daughter, which prevents doctors from attempting CPR if Olivia's heart stopped.
Doctors had said Olivia wouldn't be able to survive on IV nutrition, and Turner was given the option of taking her home on hospice care, according to the indictment.
After Turner denied the offer, Olivia died just weeks later.
The murder charges were accompanied by 10 others related to her swindling Medicaid, hospitals and charities, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation, out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Olivia was originally thought to have died as a result of her illnesses after Turner claimed the little girl suffered from a rare and fatal disease as well as seizures, autism, severe allergies and intestinal failure.
However, authorities began investigating the young girl's death after doctors became suspicious when Turner allegedly began claiming that her other daughter also had medical problems, according to the indictment, which had been released in October 2019 after a year-long investigation.
When Turner brought Olivia's older sister - whose name was redacted in the court documents, according to CNN - to Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora, she claimed that she had been treated for cancer when the family lived in Texas.
Doctors later confirmed that was not true, and the indictment revealed that upon further research, medical professionals found social media posts and news stories where Turner claimed her eldest daughter suffered from bone pain, and various other medical conditions, that were not supported by medical records.
A woman who allegedly subjected her 8-year-old son to unnecessary medical procedures as severe as an appendectomy and a colonoscopy for fabricated ailments has been charged, police in Pennsylvania announced Tuesday.
Christine Maxwell, 48, is charged with aggravated assault of a victim under age 13 by a person older than 18, as well as simple assault, endangering welfare of children, and theft by deception, police in East Pennsboro Township, Pa., said Tuesday.
Police had been alerted back in September of “a caregiver being suspected of child abuse due to Munchausen’s by Proxy,” also known as Caregiver Fabricated Illness.
An “extensive investigation and review of medical records by law enforcement and medical professionals” had revealed that Maxwell, of Enola, Pa., “had fabricated symptoms and illnesses of a juvenile child which required the juvenile to undergo many medical procedures and tests that were unnecessary,” police said.
Procedures included EKGs, ECHOs, a skin biopsy, adenoidectomy, pulmonary function tests, bronchoscopy, appendectomy, GI endoscopy, colonoscopy, MRI, X-rays, ultrasounds and repeated blood draws, reported PennLive.
“My mom tells me when I’m sick,” the boy told police, according to PennLive.
Doctors had told Maxwell that her son was developing normally, and in 2019 a Children and Youth worker had reported her behavior. The boy was taken out of her custody and his father put in charge of the youth’s medical care, PennLive said.
None of the tests showed anything wrong, court documents said. Maxwell was arrested in November for aggravated assault of a victim under 13 years old, PennLive said. Her bail was set at $20,000, and she’s due in court on Feb. 2 for a preliminary hearing.
Munchausen syndrome by proxy is both a mental illness and a form of child abuse, according to the National Library of Medicine. It’s when “the caretaker of a child, most often a mother, either makes up fake symptoms or causes real symptoms to make it look like the child is sick.”