Mommie dearest the strange case of blogger lacey spears gas lighting


As the days went on, his mother never left his side, sleeping in the same room. And, as she had for years, throughout Garnett’s young life in Decatur, Ala., and Clearwater before New York, Lacey Spears provided updates on her popular blog, "Garnett’s Journey,” and Facebook.

Last week, after a long investigation, Spears was charged with second-degree murder. Prosecutors say Spears took Garnett into the hospital room’s private bathroom and injected sodium into the feeding tube in his stomach. It appears to be a case of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a rare mental illness that involves a mother’s causing or inventing health symptoms so that her child gets medical care.

And then, when Garnett was 2, Spears brought him to Clearwater where they lived with her grandmother, Peggy Florence. Spears’ Facebook postings showed it as a time of sandcastles, sidewalk chalk pictures and Garnett driving his electric tractor, stuffed animals in tow.

Spears would drive her grandmother on errands and shopping trips. She worked as a babysitter and joined a parenting group where she shared tearful stories about raising a sickly son whose police officer father had died in a crash. She also met mothers who sent their children to the Suncoast Waldorf school in Palm Harbor, like the one Garnett later would attend in New York.

In June 2011, a member of the parenting group complained to Florida’s Department of Children and Families that Spears was medically neglecting her son and would slap him till he cried. "Mom will slap him for no reason as hard as she can. He begins to cry and then she begins to love on him," the Journal News reported the complaint as alleging.

The complaint, the first of two that year against Spears, also accused her of taking Garnett swimming with his eyes and ears bleeding, and taking him on outings with high-grade fevers. Investigators did not find any marks or bruising on Garnett, and Spears denied all allegations of neglect and abuse. The agency classified Garnett as being at "intermediate risk" because of his age and troubled medical history, but closed the case with no followup services ordered.

In June 2012, when someone questioned her parenting, Spears issued a sharp rejoinder on Facebook: "No my child does not eat off plastic, have his food cooked in a microwave, play with plastic toys that light up and talk … He isn’t vaccinated, doesn’t follow western medicine … No I won’t take his pacifier until HE IS READY TO LET IT GO!!! … At the end of the day he is loved, natured, thriving, happy and always put 1st!!!"

On its website, the Fellowship Community says it is dedicated to helping care for those with long-term illnesses. "As is now well known, a healthy normalizing setting is therapeutic for long-term care of those who are ill," the website says.

At first, condolences flooded in, but support for Spears diminished as friends learned about the police investigation and stories from her past emerged. And they learned that she had lied about Garnett’s father. He was not a police officer who died in a crash; he is a garage-door installer still living in Alabama.

Investigators now are digging into Spears’ 14 months at the Fellowship and the time she spent in Alabama and Florida, poring over medical reports and interviewing friends, hospitals and social service agencies that have fielded calls in the past about Spears’ parenting. Police have also spoken to members of the parenting group in Clearwater.