A Colorado mother has been charged with murdering her 7-year-old daughter after asking for donations to cover the girl’s medical treatments and submitting her name to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a non-profit organization that grants life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses.
On Monday, a grand jury also indicted Kelly Renee Turner, 41, also known as Kelly Gant, on 13 criminal counts, including child abuse, theft, and charitable fraud in the death of Olivia Gant in 2017. The indictment alleges the mother caused her daughter’s death. The girl had participated in ride-alongs with police and fire crews and received an $11,000 "bat princess" costume party from the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Turner, who was arrested on Friday at a Denver hotel, is being held without bond, according to the Douglas County Sheriff's Office said. Olivia's cause of death, which had been attributed to intestinal failure, remains unclear. Her body had been exhumed last year but no physical evidence of that illness or other conditions that her mother claimed she suffered from were found. Her death is now listed as undetermined.
Police say the girl had been using a feeding tube, though when she was admitted to Children's Hospital Colorado in July 2017, doctors noted that her nutrition was deficient. One doctor told police that Turner wanted to withdraw her daughter’s medical care and artificial feeding, alleging that her quality of life was extremely poor. She also insisted that the doctor sign a "do not resuscitate" order for the girl.
Doctors, who stated that the girl wouldn't survive on IV nutrition, gave her mother the option of taking her home on hospice care, according to the indictment. She ended up dying a few weeks later. Several doctors interviewed said she did not have a terminal condition. Olivia began receiving treatment at the hospital in 2013 after her mother moved from Texas, while her husband stayed behind.
The investigation into the young girl’s death began after doctors became suspicious last year after her mother brought in her older daughter saying she had "bone pain," according to the indictment. During a police interview, Turner mentioned Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a psychological disorder in which a person providing care seeks medical attention for exaggerated or imaginary symptoms of a child. "That has never been my case, like at all, whatsoever," she said in the interview.
During the investigation, Turner’s older daughter was removed from her care. She has since had no medical problems or complaints, the indictment said. The girls were insured by Medicaid, and Turner is accused of fraudulently receiving $539,000 in care from the government-funded program.