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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2003

    IL - Mom seeking attention put baby at risk, officials say

    Hi Sleuthers-

    Sorry this seems to be turning into the "Scary things happening to babies" section, but the psychology of this one is fascinating...the maternal instinct turned on it's head. This woman is deeply messed up, beyond probably beyond probably ever knowing how deeply. Scary self-absorbtion. Check out her quotes, btw. I, I, I, me, me, me. Please someone tie this woman's tubes and throw her in jail before she actually kills. She can bunk with Lisa Montgomery and they can swap fantasies.


    Mom seeking attention put baby at risk, officials say

    Stacey Vallarta rushed her 4-month-old son to doctors for 10 emergency visits in 13 weeks this fall. The doctors ordered blood tests and inserted catheters, but could never find anything wrong with the otherwise thriving infant.

    These unexplained emergencies might have been chalked up as overreactions by a doting mom. But when investigators who knew Vallarta's history with an older son discovered she had a new baby, the pattern suggested grave danger, according to court documents.

    Nearly five years ago, a Will County Juvenile Court judge ruled that Vallarta of Joliet had systematically caused the debilitating illness of another son--a preschooler who spent so much time in the hospital, subjected to painful tests and surgeries, that his medical care cost more than $1.3 million.

    The diagnosis was Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a severe and sustained form of child abuse in which a parent--almost always a mother--fakes or induces illness in a child to gain attention for herself. Vallarta permanently lost custody of that boy and his older brother, who were adopted by their maternal grandparents.


    Vallarta, 31, told the Tribune Wednesday she has never harmed her sons and will fight to regain custody of the baby.

    "These allegations are outrageous," Vallarta said. "They keep bringing up the Munchausen thing ... but they never found anything. Yeah, I'm way overprotective. But all I did was love my kids."


    Will County State's Atty. Tina Brault said she doesn't know yet whether Vallarta mistreated the baby because the investigation is just starting.

    But Brault said that to recommend permanent revocation of custody, the state needs to establish only "risk of harm," based on Vallarta's history and the new pattern of doctor's visits.

    "I could prove the [neglect] case now just based on her past," Brault said. "In the first case, we were more reactive. Now, we can be more proactive. We can put these things together before bad things happen."

    Brault first prosecuted Vallarta after doctors at Loyola Medical Center in Maywood reported her in 1999 for poisoning her son, then 3, with ipecac, a medicine used to induce vomiting.

    Brault said she also wanted to pursue a criminal abuse case against Vallarta, but her supervisor decided against it.

    Munchausen--identified in 1977 by a British pediatrician and named after an 18th Century baron who was an inveterate liar--remains a rare and complicated illness to diagnose. Many doctors are loathe to diagnose it, in part because the mothers appear so likable and devoted to their children, but also because it highlights the doctors' inadvertent role in the abuse: ordering invasive tests and performing unnecessary surgeries.

    Vallarta's public defenders argued the boy's illnesses were real. But they could not explain why the boy's condition improved so dramatically after he left his mother's home.

    Drastic improvement

    In 1999, the boy was so sick he was being fed through a stomach tube. Vallarta shopped for coffins at a Joliet funeral home.

    By the time Vallarta went to trial in 2000, the child was thriving in his grandparents' care, eating normally, gaining weight and not taking any medicines. The boy now is a healthy, active 8-year-old, authorities said.

    The problem with abuse in Munchausen by proxy cases, experts say, is that the mothers rarely admit wrongdoing and often repeat the offense, even when it's likely they will get caught.

    [last snip]

    Things `didn't add up'

    Cradling his 16-pound son in his arms at his Southwest Side home Wednesday, [the baby's father Steve] Coyne said he was shocked when he read the details of Vallarta's first case, because the pattern was similar what was happening to his boy.

    Every week or so Vallarta would call with some new medical emergency--fever, diarrhea, vomiting--that required a trip to the doctor's office, hospital and even three trips to a chiropractor.

    "A lot of things just didn't add up, and now it all makes sense," said Coyne, 33.

    Vallarta blames the arguments with Coyne for her recent troubles. She said the two often disagreed about their son's care, and she denies she took him to the doctor too often.

    Vallarta, who has worked on and off as a waitress, said she's changed. She is more religious, has had counseling and is devoted to her baby.

    "I didn't do anything to deserve what I'm getting. It's like I'm guilty until I'm proven more guilty," she said. "I won't even be allowed to give him a Christmas present. I will fight for him until the day I die. All I know is I love my son more than anything and he belongs to me."


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2003

    Angry Here she is again!

    I Google'd her name and found an article from the Chicago Tribune from 2000 about the older son. Man.

    I don't have the link-this is a snippet from the the alt.true crime discussion group, which seems to be composed mainly of women-haters and the insane.



    Stacey Vallarta of Joliet is accused of abusing her youngest son in a suspected case of Munchausen Syndrome by proxy -- in which a parent fakes or induces illness in a child to gain attention for himself or herself. (Tribune photo by Ed Wagner)
    By Tracy Dell'Angela
    Tribune Staff Writer
    February 20, 2000
    By all accounts, Stacey Vallarta doted on her ailing toddler, a little boy who
    had been in and out of hospitals so many times that his medical bills topped $1 million. For more than two years, doctors could not explain exactly what was wrong with the fair-haired Joliet boy, why he suffered from persistent vomiting and wild weight fluctuations despite an array of tests and treatments. But at some point last summer, medical professionals at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood began to suspect a more sinister diagnosis: Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a severe and sustained form of child abuse in which a parent -- almost always a mother -- fakes or induces illness in a child to gain attention for herself.

    The case displayed many of the warning signs of this strange syndrome, named after a world-renowned 18th Century baron who was an inveterate liar. It has proven a complex and controversial diagnosis in the 20 years since its identification. In this case, the signals were an exhaustive medical record that defied explanation; a sympathetic mother with a medical background who sought an unusual amount of attention from doctors; a little boy whose condition only seemed to improve when he was away from his mother.

    But it was the results of a single test that transformed these suspicions into
    an abuse case that is now playing out in a Will County juvenile courtroom. On
    Aug. 6, 1999, medical tests revealed that Vallarta's 3-year-old son had been
    given ipecac, a substance that is sold over the counter to induce vomiting in
    cases of accidental poisoning.

  3. #3
    poco's Avatar
    poco is offline A cat will blink when struck with a hammer.
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    These allegations are outrageous," Vallarta said. "They keep bringing up the Munchausen thing ... but they never found anything. Yeah, I'm way overprotective. But all I did was love my kids."

    deny, deny, deny......

    So often times it happens that we live our life in chains, and we never even know we have the key. ...Eagles, "Already Gone"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Wellington, FL
    I did a paper on Munchausen by proxy in college. The research, although heartbreaking, is fascinating.
    "It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog." - Mark Twain


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    I bet it is both. I would love to read more on it. I have a relative who I suspect has injured herself (and only herself, to my knowledge) to get attention. But I keep my theories to myself mostly, because it's merely a gut feeling and I have no proof. It must be heartbreaking for the families of these abusers-how easy is it to point an accusing finger at a mother who seems to dote on her poor child?


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    It's sort of disgusting how doctors feed right into this. It reminds me, in a different way, of this reality-type medical show. A couple brings their baby to the hospital with a high fever. The resident wants to do a spinal tap to check for spinal meningitis. The mother doesn't want to subject her baby to that. The resident discusses the possibility of getting a court order. Finally, brow-beaten, the mother gives in. The "happy ending" is that the test is negative. And I'm thinking, "no, you stupid cow, you HURT that baby, and you emotionally terrorized her mother--for NOTHING!"

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