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An Arkansas woman has been accused of faking her adopted son’s mysterious illness, forcing him to endure painful and unnecessary medical procedures as her family raked in cash from the community.
Kristy Schneider is now facing charges of endangering the welfare of a minor in the first-degree after authorities said she purposely engaged in conduct “creating a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury” for her son, according to court documents obtained by Oxygen.com.
Schneider and her husband, Erik, are also being sued for fraud in civil court by Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge for collecting thousands of dollars in donations while carrying out the alleged ruse.
“Essentially Kristy and Erik Schneider falsified their child’s health condition and received more than $31,000 in charitable donations and contributions from Arkansans who were quite simply looking to assist a family in need,” Rutledge said in a press conference Wednesday, according to local station KATV.
Kristy Schneider pulled at the community’s heartstrings by chronicling her adopted son’s medical complications on CaringBridge, a publicly available journal, starting in 2019, according to a civil complaint obtained by Oxygen.com.
She described the young boy as having a “rare chromosomal abnormality that led to him being globally developmentally delayed,” writing that his “undiagnosed GI issues” still “didn’t stop his smile from stealing hearts.”
Kristy said the young boy, whom they adopted in 2014, had his first seizure at the breakfast table in 2017 and his health continued to decline from there, eventually requiring a feeding tube.
The boy was hospitalized six times in 2018 for a total of nearly three months, according to the complaint.
By 2019, after seeing multiple specialists and having a pacemaker put in the young boy’s body, Kristy allegedly wrote that “it was determined that the recommended course of action was to come home on hospice care.”
In February of that year, law enforcement agencies from across the area joined together to line the route to the hospice facility in Little Rock, Arkansas to honor the boy, who loved law enforcement, in a parade “indirectly” paid for by taxpayers, the court documents allege.
But while at the facility “his prognosis changed dramatically” after doctors noted that he “appeared to look better than he had in months” after his feeding tube was removed.
According to the Attorney General’s Office, rather than being excited about the development, the Schneiders ordered the feeding tube to be placed back in and made a flippant remark that the boy “did a bad job of dying.”
In May of 2019, the 9-year-old was brought to the Mayo Clinic where a team of medical professionals evaluated his case and determined the pain Kristy Schneider had described her son feeling was not seen in the clinic.
Several calls were also placed to a department of children’s services hotline reporting that Kristy had been intentionally causing her son’s illness, sparking an investigation by the department.
The Attorney General’s office has alleged that Kristy “continued to exaggerate (the child’s) symptoms leading to unnecessary medical care, interfering with the care process and providing false representations” to his medical team.
The boy was placed into the care of the state in September of 2019, shortly after another hospitalization for an infected port.
After the boy was in the state’s care and examined by a team of medical professionals, doctors concluded that the boy had been “a victim of Munchausen by proxy” a condition where a caregiver provides false information about physical symptoms or induces injury or disease in another for their own benefit, the court documents allege.
Authorities said while the boy was undergoing countless medical procedures, the community had stepped up to help the family, providing complementary ambulance trips, round trip flights to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester and meals, cash and gifts to help the family. The Attorney’s General office said, in total, the Schneider’s received approximately $31,895 in donations.
“Quite frankly this case is just sad and it’s sickening that the parents would put their own child at risk and helpless for their own profit,” Rutledge said at the press conference. “It’s scary and sad anytime an adult would harm a child, but this case is just unbelievable.”
Kristy Schneider was arrested in connection with the criminal charges against her on Tuesday and was later released that same day after posting a $100,000 bond, KATV reports.
Authorities said within days of being removed from the couple’s custody, the previously wheelchair-bound boy was able to walk and eat normally.
In her comments made Wednesday, Rutledge also said the boy was “better.”
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