Back in 1999 Kathleen Bush was convicted of harming her child Jennifer.
It is believed Kathleen suffers from Munchausen by Proxy. A mental disorder where a parent makes their child psychically sick because of some twisted need for attention. Jennifer had been extremely ill for years.
The Bush case was national news. Featured on 48 Hours and other news programs.
The biggest evidence in the case was within days of being removed from her mother's care Jennifer improved dramatically. She had been using a feeding tube. It was taken out a few days after her removal from her mother and she has eaten normally ever since.
According to this Time article nurses were suspicious of Jennifer's mother since 1991 and even reported her to the authorities.
The last update I can find is from 2005 when the courts allowed 18 year old Jennifer to reunite with her mother.
My question to you my dear Websleuths members is do any of you have a current update for this case?
Has Kathleen ever admitted to harming her daughter? Has Jennifer ever said her mother made her sick? What are they doing now?
If anyone knows please post here.
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Mom, teen torn apart by abuse trial are 'reunited'
Kathy lives in Georgia and daughter Jennifer lives in Illinois -- both deny that Kathy did anything to harm her daughter. "I do not believe that my mother abused me when I was a child," Jennifer said in an e-mail with The Miami Herald
Say what you mean, mean what you say, but don't say it mean.
We are all just trying to make sense of an unimaginable crime.
Oh my goodness...i remember this case well, and have often wondered what happened to them...
All I can add, Tricia, is that I am the proud permanent foster mother of of a young and brave survivor of horrific abuse by Munchausen's by Proxy. This child came to us in foster care with a stack two feet thick of diagnoses. She'd been in 26 placements in her 14 years and almost died of lithium toxicity. She's suffered through a ridiculous amount of unnecessary and painful procedures.
I will be very blunt about my first impressions of her at age 14. I did not like her. I did not connect with her. She had strange mannerisms and tics. She picked at her skin until she was bloody. She slept in her closet and refused to make eye contact. She was on four psycho-tropic medications and her mother had her signed up with almost every doctor in our state. If there was an uncomfortable or painful medical process, this kid was on the list. She came to us not long after being released from the ICU where she almost died from a lithium overdose. It took quite a bit of detective work to determine that we were actually dealing with MBP. Our daughter seemed to slough off diagnoses every single day. None of them fit any longer as she gained her sense of footing and safety. When her adoptive parents' rights were terminated, she literally seemed to grow by leaps and bounds. There's no stopping her now.
Fast forward almost two years. Our daughter (permanent now) is bright and silly, healthy and strong. She has no strange mannerisms, no tics, her body works fine. She takes a single multi-vitamin each day. Gone are the hallucinations and voices. Gone are the strange rashes. She's still a young lady with a cognitive disability but I challenge anyone to go to the park with her or out to lunch. You'd have a blast. She's a hoot. Did I mention that she also lost 30 pounds after coming to us and left her diagnosis of pre-diabetes behind. She delights in pretty clothes after years of oversized sweat pants and t-shirts. She's lovely and will turn 16 this week. She spent the summer at Easter Seals Camp, overnights, the movies, and day-trips. She's a tremendous help with our special needs little dogs and her kindness and tenderness knows no bounds.
Munchausen's by Proxy is devastating. I've worked with victims two other times and one child did not make it out alive. Almost always, the birth mother or adoptive mother (very common) is a childhood victim of severe sexual abuse. Many mothers also suffer extremely low self-esteem and have volatile and unhealthy relationships with their partners or spouses. Obesity, eating disorders, hoarding, and difficult to diagnose illnesses are the norm. There is a deep self-loathing which is meted out on typically one female child in the family.
I literally CANNOT recommend too highly the book, "Sickened" by Julie Gregory. Julie is a survivor of MBP. She was lucky to make it out alive. I was entranced by her book and the similarities I've watched play out with our foster daughter. The commonalities are remarkable. Julie was repeatedly told she was retarded and stupid. She was starved, subjected to painful and unnecessary medical procedures, force fed medication she didn't need and was the constant victim of physical and emotional abuse. And yet her book is one of hope. Interestingly enough Julie is currently getting her degree in psychiatry in London. So much for cognitive challenges. She's also a healthy young woman.
The book was a wake-up call, however. Even though Julie and our daughter are healing, the person with MBP rarely does. Vigilance is required throughout life to prevent the sick person from having any contact with their victim. The dynamics are just too toxic and dangerous. In the book, "Sickened", Julie's mother can never admit her crimes. Tragically, she has used her manipulative ways to gain custody of even more children. As I said, the person ill with Muchausen's by Proxy rarely heals. They literally have too much pain deep inside.
I'll see what I can find out about this case.
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Just to be clear, Julie Gregory, the author of "Sickened", also denied her abuse for years. She completely blamed her self for everything that had gone wrong in her family....after all, her mother spent all her time trying to find out what was "wrong" with Julie. She must have loved her, right?
It was only after Julie became an adult and visited her mother and her new husband and their foster children that she came to the conclusion as to the depth of her mother's illness.
Julie speaks on the issue and has a website:
[ame="http://www.amazon.com/Sickened-Memoir-Munchausen-Proxy-Childhood/dp/0553803077"]Amazon.com: Sickened: The Memoir of a Munchausen by Proxy Childhood (9780553803075): Julie Gregory, Marc D. Feldman: Books[/ame]
How does a MBP mother get a hold of foster children? That is crazy. I don't know what it will take to open the eyes of the world to the horrific things going on out there. Foster children after what she did to Julie is very, very frightening. I don't understand.
I wonder if any of the foster children in Kathleen's care have any 'issues'? My gawd, that is just plain scary!
Kathleen has/had foster children? That totally freaks me out. Women with MBP are typically very conniving and manipulative. They fall into two categories. They are either very brash and pushy and demanding or charming and enticing. Often they can flip back and forth between the tactics. They are masters at setting up situations to make themselves look good. If they lose one child due to their abuse or the child grows up, they will often seek out others as they require that child on which project their own pain. Doctors who are "snowed" by them feel like victims too. They have to live with the knowledge that they played along and medicated or did surgery on a child without real need. Social workers suffer greatly when they miss the signs. Those with MPB are typically quite bright and exceptionally good at what they do. It's awful.
Julie Gregory was shocked to find that her mother had moved to another state and had been successful in having foster children placed with her--after Julie left home in her late teens. One must remember that Julie grew up in the 70s-80s, long before cross-agency reporting. No doubt her mother simply lied as I don't think she was convicted of child abuse.
I mentioned that I've had two other interactions with mothers/victims. Both were cases of adopted children. Both women (both happened to be morbidly obese and single too) sought to adopt children with standing diagnoses and so no one questioned the children getting sicker and sicker. Our daughter was also an adopted child. It's far more common than you think.
Please understand that I personally know and respect hundreds of families who seek out special needs children to adopt and they have NONE of these issues. Large adoptive families and specialized foster homes very commonly seek a specific type of child because they have experience with a particular disability. I know families that have adopted a number of children with Down Syndrome, who are wheelchair bound, or those who specialize in spectrum disorders. Our specialty happened by chance. We sought vibrant, physically healthy children who had suffered prenatal substance exposure and exhibited behavior issues. We also specialized in a older boys of color as they wait the longest.
One of our sons, though, was not physically healthy. He had a serious chronic health problem. When nothing seemed to work with him and his symptoms made no sense, we made the suggestion to have him placed in the hospital 300 miles from our home. We brought up the issue of MBP. The plan was made that we'd let him stay under the care of the doctors and social workers in Portland for 3 weeks with no visits or calls. It was tough but we needed to make certain that we were not suspected of encouraging his illness. We also had to prove to ourselves that nothing in our home or our family dynamics was contributing to his illness.
Three weeks later, it was formally decided that we had a very sick boy on our hands and nothing the hospital had tried with him had any different outcome than we'd had in working with our local doctor. He returned home.
The reason I knew to even suggest this was that I was advocating for a child who'd recently been removed from a placement with an adoptive mom with MBP. I knew that the doctors might be thinking that about me. The irony is that women with MBP absolutely love doctor visits. They most frequently seek care for their children with male doctors and revel in the attention they get. I happen to have a very involved and devoted husband/father of the children and doctors' visits were the bane of our life!! We just didn't fit the profile.
BTW, I've suggested that all the local DHS case managers and the CASAs read the book "Sickened". There must be more recognition of this insidious mental illness which seriously affects children's health.
Last edited by Missizzy; 09-12-2010 at 11:43 AM.
Sorry, I was not clear. I was talking about Julie's mother.
Got it. I'm unclear on that Belinda. As you can imagine, that was my and my husband's first concern after reading the book. We did some looking into it. It seems that the children were placed with the mother in Montana on an informal basis. Julie didn't even know about them until she attempted a reconciliation visit. She was shocked that history seemed to be repeating itself.
I don't know if DHS has been involved. However, the details are clearly spelled out in the book which was published in 2004. Presumably those children would be young adults now. There are some vague comments on Julie's website about being able to educate others about this disorder but not having much luck in preventing children from being harmed by her mother. My assumption is that Julie reported her concerns but I'm not so sure that her mother didn't shout her down. Her mother is/was (not sure she's still living) quite a force to contend with.
"From early childhood, Julie Gregory was continually X-rayed, medicated, and operated on—in the vain pursuit of an illness that was created in her mother’s mind. Munchausen by proxy (MBP) is the world’s most hidden and dangerous form of child abuse, in which the caretaker—almost always the mother—invents or induces symptoms in her child because she craves the attention of medical professionals. Many MBP children die, but Julie Gregory not only survived, she escaped the powerful orbit of her mother's madness and rebuilt her identity as a vibrant, healthy young woman."
"The realization that the sickness lay in her mother, not in herself, would not come to Julie until adulthood."
There's 53 reviews on Amazon.
It completely breaks my heart to see children put through all of those awful, terrible medical procedures, pain, medication and endless illness all at the behest of their own mothers. It just completely horrifies me. How anyone could stand there and watch their child be put through that for no reason is beyond anything I am capable of understanding. It is heartless and cruel.
Belinda--We can't understand as we don't have this illness. Think of all the odd symptoms and markers for different mental illnesses. If we didn't know them to be well-studied and documented, how could we believe they're real? I wouldn't have readily believed except for the fact that I've seen it in person three times.
My fear is that many of the young female victims of today could develop this very real disorder. It's up to society to get therapy going immediately for children who disclose abuse. In thinking of Julie's book and the other three cases I know of, none of the mothers received any treatment for their own childhood horrors. There's really only a paragraph or two in "Sickened" which talks of Julie's mother's own abuse but it was horrific and involved electrical shocks. The mother even terrorized Julie with giving her specifics about it.
I don't believe that MBP is a disorder that can be treated with a self-help book. I would imagine that it requires life time treatment. It's tremendously complex and the abusers have little insight into their own actions. In my personal experience, I'd have to say, none.
This case has been disproved. http://www.msbp.com/Bushtrial.htm
To tell the truth, I read many stories on the above website and just cried and cried. The biggest crime here is being carried out by those who use the catch phrase "Munchausens Syndrome by Proxy" as a basis for breaking families apart and convicting innocent mothers of harming or killing their children. It has become a diagnosis that makes the mother guilty until proven innocent.
And going by this thread, it is also a typical case of even when she has been found innocent, the news goes strangely quiet. It is more exciting to tell the story of a mother hurting her child than it is to report that they got it wrong. That poor woman will go through life with that hanging over her head.
“Evil begins when you begin to treat people as things.” -- Terry Pratchett
Last edited by LinasK; 10-16-2013 at 06:35 PM.
Please help locate Mark Dribin http://www.websleuths.com/forums/sho...ht=Mark+Dribin and Ilene Misheloff http://www.websleuths.com/forums/sho...lene+Misheloff and bring them home.