How mom accused of faking girl's terminal illness tipped off investigators

CBS News 1 month ago

A Colorado mother faces first-degree murder charges in the 2017 death of her seven-year-old daughter Olivia Gant. Kelly Turner, who went by Kelly Gant, may have faked her child's alleged terminal illness to gain attention and favors from groups like Make-A-Wish. She is charged with 13 criminal counts that also include child abuse and fraud.  

CBS News correspondent Barry Petersen reports the official cause of Olivia's death is undetermined, but an indictment blames her mother's sinister actions – not terminal illness. Turner is accused of stealing more than half a million dollars from government-funded programs and GoFundMe.

The investigation into Olivia's death intensified last year when a doctor became suspicious of Turner's claims her older child was a cancer survivor. Turner later allegedly admitted that was not true, but she insisted to investigators, Olivia's "medical conditions were completely legitimate." In the indictment, several doctors dispute that.

In the months before Olivia's death, her Colorado community rallied around her and her mother, helping her check off "bucket list" items. She was a police officer for a day, and thanks to the Make-A-Wish foundation, a superhero battling villains. 

Psychiatrist Marc Feldman specializes in Munchausen syndrome by proxy – where a caregiver fakes or induces illness in someone, often for attention. In Turner's indictment, investigators claim she "spontaneously" brought up the syndrome to them, then denied having it.

But Feldman says Olivia's death seems like a classic case. 

"There are a number of warning signs – inconsistent histories given by the mother, doctor shopping or hospital shopping, that is moving from place to place. And all of these seem to be true in the new Colorado case," Feldman said.

 Turner is now being held without bond, and in a statement Make-A-Wish said it is deeply disturbed by the allegations.

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