A 34-year-old Georgia woman is in prison after allegedly subjecting her 5-year-old son to unnecessary medication and medical procedures.
Teresa Lynne Roth was arrested on Feb. 21 and charged with first-degree child cruelty.
“While in his parents’ care, the child was on numerous different medications, in a wheelchair and on a feeding tube,” Hall County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Scott Ware wrote in a news release obtained by The Gainesville Times. “Additionally, the parents drew disability on the child’s behalf.”
The investigation started when Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta staff contacted the Division of Family and Children Services about the woman, Ware told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Investigators say Teresa Lynne Roth, 34, of Hall County, Georgia, made her 5-year-old son take 28 unnecessary medications and undergo unnecessary medical treatments for nearly two years. https://t.co/mMDqiyUwzI
— WSOCTV (@wsoctv) February 24, 2019
“Between January 2016 and October 2018 Mrs. Roth did cause her son unnecessary physical and mental pain by subjecting him to undergo unnecessary medical treatments and medications, jeopardizing his well-being,” Ware said, via the Journal-Constitution.
The Division of Family and Children Services took custody of the child in October and contacted the sheriff’s office.
Police said the boy is now well and no longer on medication or undergoing any unnecessary medical procedures, according to the Journal-Constitution.
Ware told the Journal-Constitution that the child was unnecessarily using an oxygen tank.
Investigators thought the mother may have Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a psychological condition that causes a caregiver to seek attention by fabricating or exaggerating illnesses, according to the Journal-Constitution.
There have been other cases of parents abusing children by way of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, also called Factitious disorder imposed on another.
Lifetime broadcasted TV movie “Love You to Death” about a mother who had Munchausen syndrome by proxy and forced her daughter to think she was sick. In the real-life story adaptation, the child enacts revenge and is ultimately discovered to be her mother’s murderer.
Another case with the same vengeful outcome was turned into a series on Hulu. In her research to play the mother for “The Act,” Patricia Arquette found that one in 10 children who have a parent that has Munchausen syndrome by proxy end up dead, Deadline reported.
A mother who was also a nurse was arrested for draining her son’s blood unnecessarily over five years. From age one to age 6, the mother drained her son’s blood 110 times, while telling doctors the boy had low blood count because of a bone marrow disease, Metro reported.
— Fanpop (@fanpop) February 17, 2019
“It wasn’t a decision I just made. I don’t know when I started doing something I didn’t have to. It happened gradually. I flushed the blood down the toilet and burned the syringes in the bin,” the nurse told a Danish court.
Police secretly filmed the blood drains. The mother had almost no response when asked her motivation.
‘I wish I could answer you, but I can’t. I wish I could.’
According to Michigan Medicine, although the condition is usually between a parent and child, it can also exist between an elderly person and a caregiver and in other dynamics.
But in this case, investigators think the parents ultimately had financial motives. Ware said the Roth and her husband may have done it to collect disability checks, the Journal-Constitution reported.
“They were receiving disability, but now that the child’s not in their custody, they’re not,” he told the Journal-Constitution.
Police might also bring charges against the boy’s father. Roth is currently in jail on $16,700 bond, the Journal-Constitution reported.