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Arkansas mother’s lies about son led to dangerous medical treatments, authorities say

by Ashton Eley | July 28, 2021 at 7:18 a.m.

A Saline County woman surrendered Tuesday on a felony warrant after authorities said she lied to doctors about the highly publicized illnesses of her young son.

From about 2017-19, Kristy Beth Schneider of Alexander purposely presented false information to medical experts, which led to unnecessary medical attention, according to court records.

The medicine and procedures performed on the young child created a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury, according to court documents filed Monday in Saline County Circuit Court.

[WEDNESDAY UPDATE: Attorney general sues Arkansas couple accused of lying about son’s illnesses » arkansasonline.com728ag/]

Schneider was charged Monday with endangering the welfare of a minor in the first degree, a Class D felony.

Schneider's adopted son's struggles with these "illnesses" were covered at length by news outlets, and there were several community efforts to support the young boy.

Doctors have described the ordeal as a result of "Munchausen syndrome by proxy," or the false projection of disease or injury onto another person in order to deceive.

Schneider's lawyer, Jeff Rosenzweig, said they prearranged with the prosecutor for Schneider to surrender after the charges were filed.

"She's not hiding from anyone or anything," Rosenzweig said. He declined to make any further comments.

Kristy and Erik Schneider adopted the boy in 2014. He had been diagnosed with a chromosomal abnormality, cognitive learning delay, seizure disorder, reflux, rumination and heart rate variability with a pacemaker, according to court records.

In February 2019, the Schneiders and the boy, who went by Louie at the time, were featured in news reports after "hundreds of law enforcement officials" greeted him along the way to Arkansas Children's Hospital for end-of-life care to honor the boy's final request, according to an ABC News article. He received hundreds of letters of support from around the county.

However, the boy's condition began to improve after he was admitted to the hospital and taken off a nutrition line, according to court records.

Later, several of his doctors and state Human Services Department attorneys claimed that the boy was a victim of Munchausen syndrome by proxy. The Schneiders argued that both groups were unqualified to prove the condition, according to court records.

The Mayo Clinic defines factitious disorder imposed on another -- previously called Munchausen syndrome by proxy -- as "when someone falsely claims that another person has physical or psychological signs or symptoms of illness, or causes injury or disease in another person with the intention of deceiving others."

After his dismissal from Children's Hospital, the boy was seen at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota where doctors strongly recommended that he be carefully weaned off the narcotics he was taking to determine his baseline medical condition, according to court documents.

Once back in Arkansas, Schneider did not mention this recommendation to her son's primary care physician, according to court records.

She also reportedly asked for a port to be placed in his chest, claiming that it was advised by the Mayo Clinic. However, she had previously requested a port at the Mayo Clinic emergency room but was denied. Schneider also requested a referral for hospice, but the Mayo Clinic did not agree that a hospice referral was warranted and declined her request.

The 11-year-old boy was taken away from the Schneiders in September 2019 after the Human Services Department received a tip through the child abuse hotline, according to court records.

The Schneiders' argued that the lower court's decision to allow social workers to remove the boy should be overruled because it relied heavily on the testimony of the son's doctors, without a psychiatric evaluation of the parents to diagnose the claim of Munchausen syndrome.

Court of Appeals Judge Waymond Brown rejected their argument in the September opinion, writing "there was ample of [sic] testimony where the court could conclude that Kristy's actions of misrepresenting information to the medical professionals were done either intentionally, knowingly, or both."

The Arkansas Supreme Court denied the Schneiders' petition for review on Nov. 19.

Amy Webb, the spokeswoman for the Human Services Department, previously told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that the agency is prohibited from saying whether the child has been adopted by another family.

Print Headline: Mother accused over boy's illnesses

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