A Colorado woman has been charged with murdering her 7-year-old daughter who she had claimed was terminally ill, authorities said.
Kelly Renee Turner had sought donations to cover medical expenses for her daughter Olivia Gant, who died in August 2017. But a grand jury indictment, revealed on Monday, alleges that Turner was responsible for causing the girl's death.
The 41-year-old, who is also known as Kelly Gant, was charged with 13 criminal counts, including murder, child abuse, theft and charitable fraud.
Olivia's cause of death was originally attributed to intestinal failure, according to the indictment, KUSA-TV reported. The girl's actual cause of death was not clear, but the indictment noted that Turner withdrew Olivia's medical care and nourishment in the weeks before her death.
After the girls' body was exhumed last year, an autopsy revealed no physical evidence of intestinal failure or any of the other conditions Turner claimed she had, the Associated Press reported.
Olivia died weeks after being admitted to Children's Hospital Colorado in July 2017. She was using a feeding tube, but doctors said she had a nutritional deficiency, according to the Associated Press.
Turner had wanted to withdraw all medical care for her daughter, including artificial feeding, one doctor told investigators. The doctor said Turner also demanded that he sign a "do not resuscitate" order.
Doctors said she wouldn't be able to survive on intravenous nutrition and offered Turner options besides removing her feeding tube, the Denver Post reported, citing a police affidavit. But they left the decision up to Turner.
The girl died a few weeks later on August 20, 2017, after Turner transferred her to a hospice facility, according to the Post.
Several doctors told authorities that Olivia didn't have a terminal condition.
But according to the indictment, Turner had argued that her daughter's quality of life was so bad that withdrawing medical care was the humane option, KUSA-TV reported.
Turner had claimed her daughter was terminally ill with neurogastrointestinal encephalomyopathy, Denver7 reported, and attracted significant media coverage in 2017 before the girl's death by promoting the girl's "bucket list" which went viral.
Turner used GoFundMe to raise more than $22,000 from 161 donors, the station reported.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation, a charity that grants wishes to critically ill kids, threw a "bat princess" party for Olivia in early 2017. "You could give me all the money in the world, and I would give it back to you to be able to watch this again," Turner told CBS Denver at the time.
But an investigation into Olivia's death was launched last year after doctors at Children's Hospital Colorado became suspicious when Turner came into hospital with her older daughter, who she claimed has "bone pain" and cancer, the Denver Post reported. Newsweek has contacted the Children's Hospital Colorado for comment.
Authorities separated Turner from the girl to determine if she would continue to report the same symptoms. According to the indictment, the girl has not had any medical problems or pains since October 2018.
KUSA-TV reported that both Olivia and the older girl, who is now 11, were insured by Medicaid. Turner is accused of defrauding the government-funded program out of around $539,000 worth of medical care.
She is also accused of defrauding a funeral home and a cemetery that handled arrangements following Olivia's death, the station reported.
In an interview with investigators, Turner randomly mentioned Munchausen syndrome by proxy, the indictment said.
The condition is defined as a psychological disorder, also known as factitious disorder, where parents or caregivers lie that their children or dependents are ill when they're actually not. It can also involve causing them injuries that require medical attention.
"That has never been my case, like at all, whatsoever," Turner told investigators, according to the Associated Press.
Detectives arrested Turner at a hotel in Glendale, outside Denver, Colorado, on Friday morning, the Douglas County Sheriff's Office said. She was booked into the Douglas County Detention Facility, where she is being held without bond.
Her arrest came after a year-long investigation by the sheriff's office.
"I am extremely proud and impressed with the determination of all agencies involved, especially my detectives. While it has been an extremely emotional case, they have investigated all aspects of it with diligence and professionalism," Sheriff Tony Spurlock said.