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Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy Mom Convicted In QAnon Plot To Kidnap Son She Abused

Cynthia Abcug lost custody of her then-7-year-old son after she was accused of faking his multiple illnesses for attention. She then worked with alleged QAnon adherents to try and kidnap him from his foster home.

By Dorian Geiger
7 Facts About Child Abuse and Prevention

A Colorado mother accused of plotting a raid on a foster home to kidnap the son she was accused of abusing was found guilty last week.

Cynthia Abcug, 53, was convicted on Friday of conspiracy to commit second-degree kidnapping in the botched 2019 scheme to abduct her son, according to the District Attorney’s Office for the 18th Judicial District. She was also found guilty of a misdemeanor count of child abuse.

Prosecutors said Abcug began plotting the boy's kidnapping with strangers she'd met online after the then-7-year-old boy was removed from her care in 2019 over abuse allegations involving Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy.

The Colorado mother had purportedly fabricated the boy's various alleged medical conditions, including seizures, heart problems and other illnesses, according to officials.

“The investigation found Abcug subjected her son to medical child abuse…and then plotted to kidnap him from the foster home where he was living,” the District Attorney’s Office for the 18th Judicial District said in a statement on Aug. 26. “Evidence showed shortly after her son’s removal, Abcug planned to take her son back with assistance from unknown individuals, possibly QAnon, a far-right political and conspiracy theory movement.”

A police handout of Cynthia Abcug

At trial, prosecutors noted that Abcug’s son, who is now 10, has experienced “no serious medical issues” in the three years since he’d been removed from her home.

“While in the defendant’s care, her child was described as having repeated seizures and 'spells' where he would fall to the ground,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Gary Dawson also said in a statement. “She claimed he had a brain tumor and that he was dying. Every single one of those reported symptoms disappeared when her son was removed from her care.”

During the trial, Abcug took the stand in her defense and denied she’d either invented her son’s medical problems or had any connection to QAnon. Abcug’s legal team had speculated that the drug used to treat her son’s seizures was to blame for some of the boy’s health problems.

“Ms. Abcug’s son was lawfully removed from her custody in order to protect him from imminent danger,” District Attorney John Kellner also said. “There’s no telling what may have happened to that little boy if the kidnapping plot had succeeded."

Following her son’s removal in 2019, Abcug claimed on the stand to have met a group on social media that was advocating for family court system reform. She testified that the organization, “Children’s Crusade,” promised to help get her son back legally.

Her 16-year-old daughter — who was also later removed from Abcug's custody — reported to investigators some time after her brother's removal that her mother had, for a number of months, been repeatedly referencing a raid on her sibling’s foster home. The teen also told investigators that Abcug had permitted a military veteran (whom the teen suspected was armed) to sleep on the family's couch for the purpose of providing security, per the Associated Press.

Abcug testified that the man — who was part of the online group she’d been networking with — had been sent to protect her family after she discovered that her back sliding door’s lock had been damaged.

She claimed that, after her daughter’s removal, the man in question took her to a “safe house,” but that her phone was taken from her and she was instead held captive in a hotel for three months.

After searching her home, authorities seized rubber bracelets bearing the QAnon slogan, “The Storm Is Upon Us” and other evidence allegedly tying her to the fringe group. Abcug was ultimately arrested in Montana in December 2019.

She is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 6.