Mum charged with murder of daughter who 'died of terminal illness'

23 October 2019, 04:33 | Updated: 28 October 2019, 15:26

A Colorado mother who asked for donations to cover medical treatments for her daughter and promoted the girl's "bucket list" of dreams to fulfil before she died has been charged with murdering the seven-year-old.

It had been previously believed that Olivia Gant had died as the result of a terminal disease in 2017.

In a grand jury indictment, the girl's mother, Kelly Renee Turner, 41, also known as Kelly Gant, was charged with 13 criminal counts that included child abuse, theft and charitable fraud.

Turner is accused of killing Olivia - not the multiple illnesses she claimed the girl suffered from.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants wishes to critically ill children, also paid about $11,000 (£8,500) for a "bat princess" costume party for the girl.

Olivia's actual cause of death is not immediately clear. It was originally attributed to intestinal failure.

Her body was exhumed last year, and an examination found no physical evidence of that illness or other conditions that Turner claimed the girl suffered from, including seizure disorder and a build-up of fluid in cavities deep within the brain.

Olivia's death is now listed as undetermined.

Several doctors who were interviewed said Olivia did not have a terminal condition. The girl started receiving treatment at the hospital in 2013 after moving from Texas, where Turner's husband stayed behind.

The investigation into Olivia's death began after doctors at the hospital became suspicious last year after Turner brought in her older daughter because of "bone pain", according to the indictment.

During an interview, investigators said Turner spontaneously brought up Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a psychological disorder in which parents or caregivers seek attention from the illness of their children or dependants and sometimes cause them injuries that require attention.

"That has never been my case, like at all, whatsoever," she said in the interview.

During the investigation, authorities separated Turner from her older daughter to see if the girl would still report the same symptoms. The daughter has not had any additional medical problems or complaints of pain since October 2018, the indictment said.

It is not immediately clear how old the girl is or whom she lives with now.

The daughters were insured by Medicaid, and Turner is accused of fraudulently obtaining care worth about $539,000 (£415,000) from the US government-funded programme.