Little Garnett Spears seemed to be constantly in and out of hospitals and doctor's offices, struggling with various health maladies for all of his short life, while his doting single mom Lacey documented it all on Facebook and Twitter and asked for prayers. Garnett didn't survive the last hospitalization, dying on Jan. 23 in an upstate New York hospital—and now authorities are investigating Lacey Spears, who's under suspicion of poisoning the boy she called her "little prince." Garnett had suspiciously elevated sodium levels when he was admitted to the hospital, prompting doctors to alert police. Sources tell the Journal News they found a high concentration of sodium in a feeding bag Spears used to feed her son through a tube in his stomach—a bag that Spears allegedly asked a friend to throw away while she was at the hospital with Garnett. Why would Spears do such a thing? Investigators think she could have Munchausen by proxy, a psychiatric disorder in which a parent harms a child in order to get sympathy and attention from others.
The Journal News is running a five-part series on the tragedy. The first two parts are online now; they reveal that before she gave birth to Garnett, Spears often watched the child of a friend and co-worker—and would tell people, both in person and online (where she posted many pictures of him with captions like "My World My Everything") that he was her son. That boy's mother says he suffered from chronic ear infections during that time period—a malady that also plagued Garnett—but they went away when Spears stopped watching him. And then things get even weirder: Spears claimed Garnett's father, a police officer named Blake she called her "soulmate" and wrote extensively about on a blog, died in a car accident. But close friends insist no such person exists, and the man who claims to be Garnett's real father says the boy was conceived during a brief fling and Spears never introduced Garnett to him. The medical examiner has not yet ruled on Garnett's cause of death, and Spears has not been charged. The full story is worth a read, including this article on Munchausen by proxy "red flags." (Read more child death stories.)