Lacey Spears, the New York mother who gained a large online following by blogging about her sick son, Garnett, may soon face charges in connection with the death of the 5-year-old.
Garnett, who was known as “Garnett the Great” and was hospitalized 23 times, died on Jan. 23 after being hospitalized. Doctors found high levels of sodium in his system, spurring an investigation into the boy’s death, the Journal News reported.
Sources close to the investigation told Fox News on Tuesday that the Westchester County medical examiner ruled Garnett’s death a homicide and that the child was given a lethal dose of sodium through his feeding tube. Sources said Spears, 25, may face criminal charges in her son’s death, and that investigators believe the mother may have had Munchausen syndrome by proxy, the psychiatric disorder where a caregiver intentionally sickens a child as a way to get attention. Spears had a number of social media accounts that included pictures of her with Garnett, and she updated followers on the child’s hospital stays.
"It's evident by the nature of what was found in his body that somebody, in effect, poisoned him," the source told FoxNews.com. "He [Garnett] died at the hands of somebody else."
While Garnett was hospitalized, Spears allegedly asked a friend to discard a bag she used to feed Garnett through his feeding tube. Police eventually found the bag and determined it contained a high dose of sodium, the Journal News reported.
"She wanted the neighbor to dispose of incriminating evidence," a source told FoxNews.com. "The neighbor never did get rid of it, and police seized it."
Spears’ lawyer, David Sachs, denied the allegations.
"Lacey is completely devastated by the loss of her son and absolutely denies harming her son in any way," he said.
A native of Decatur, Alabama, Spears moved with Garnett to Clearwater, Florida, to live with her mother in 2010. Mother and son moved again in 2012 to Chestnut Ridge, New York, to live among the so-called “Fellowship Community,” a secluded community that cares for the elderly and believes in organic farming and the self-sustaining ways of living that Lacey believed could help her son. Lacey and Garnett lived rent-free while caring for the older residents.
“When she made her move, it was to better Garnett,” Kathy Hammack, a friend and former coworker from Alabama, told the Journal News. “Everything she did was for him.”
The newspaper uncovered lies told by Spears, including her claims that she was the mother of a boy, Jonathon Strain, of whom she posted pictures on her MySpace page. Spears was caring for the child at the time, but the boy’s mother decided to go with another child care provider after discovering the pictures.
"I went and looked [on the page.] And it was a picture of Jonathon," said Jonathon’s mother, Autumn Hunt. "In a comment under the picture, someone wrote, 'He's so cute, is he yours?' And Lacey replied, 'Yes, he is. That's the love of my life. He was born Feb. 14.'"
There were also doubts as to whether Garnett actually needed a feeding tube, which Spears said the child had used since birth. Fellowship Community members said they saw the 5-year-old eating solid food without issues, while medical personnel in two states declined to answer that question when asked about it by Fox News, citing privacy laws.