Wendi Scott (born 1975) is a Frederick, Maryland mother of two who was charged on November 16, 2007 with sickening her four-year-old daughter Cristina in a notable case of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy.
Scott was charged with first- and second-degree child abuse, first- and second-degree assault and reckless endangerment. She was ordered to be held in jail on $75,000 bail. Frederick County Assistant State's Attorney Lindell K. Angel had urged Circuit Court Judge G. Edward Dwyer to set Scott's bail at $250,000, calling her a danger to herself and others. Defense attorney Mary Drawbaugh had asked for a lower bail, stating that Scott turned herself in and kept her weekly psychiatric appointments.
Munchausen Syndrome evidenced by Scott in the past
According to court statements, Scott had previously feigned cancer for about a year between 2002 and 2003 by shaving her head and eyebrows and plucking her eyelashes. She moved about using a wheelchair or walker most of the time, convincing her husband, pastor, and friends that she was seriously ill. While it is unclear if there was a definitive past diagnosis, Angel characterized Scott in the November 16, 2007 hearing as having "a history of Munchausen Syndrome."
Daughter's illness and investigation
In the hearing, Angel described how Scott intravenously fed her daughter magnesium and withdrew blood to make her appear sickly and caused her daughter to suffer from severe diarrhea, blood loss, vomiting, high fever and a rapid heart rate. During this time, Cristina was being treated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, but doctors there had been unable to find a cause for her symptoms. During three years of inpatient and outpatient treatments at Walter Reed, 72 procedures had been performed on the child, including blood transfusions and bone marrow tests because of suspicions of leukemia. Doctors admitted, that, if not for that suspicion, none of the procedures likely would have been required.
In Scott's May, 2008 sentencing trial, Dr. Arthur deLorimier, a lieutenant colonel at Walter Reed, testified that the girl faces increased risks of cancer from repeated radiological tests, is developmentally delayed, and is in danger of future emotional problems.
While the child was at Walter Reed, Scott had been posting an online diary documenting the travails of parenting a seriously ill child, Angel said. "The doctors are at a loss," Angel said, reading from the journal. "But we will continue to go on, and through friends, the hospital and everyone's prayers, we'll get through this."
Trial and sentence
Scott entered a guilty plea to first-degree child abuse on March 13, 2008. In the hearing, Scott's defense attorney acknowledged her client intentionally harmed her child during the six-week period from May 1 to June 12, 2007, and conceded that the state could prove Scott committed the most serious of those acts during this time period.
Judge Dwyer, again presiding, accepted Scott's plea and convicted her of abuse from May 1 to June 12, 2007. As part of the plea agreement, fourteen other charges against Scott were dropped, including allegations of assault and reckless endangerment. While awaiting her punishment, Dwyer ordered Scott to remain on home detention and prohibited Scott from having contact with her children or entering Fort Detrick.
In a six-hour sentencing hearing on May 8, 2008, Drawbaugh urged Dwyer to confine Scott to her home, allowing her to continue intensive psychotherapy to deal with severe mental illnesses. However, after hearing prosecution testimony as well, Judge Dwyer ordered Scott to serve 15 years of a 25-year sentence for the actions to which she had pleaded guilty.
- Leckie, Kate (2007-11-20). "Military wife faces assault charges for making daughter sick". Frederick News Post. http://www.fredericknewspost.com/sections/news/display.htm?StoryID=67885. Retrieved 2007-11-24.
- Leckie, Kate (2007-11-21). "Mother accused of making child ill". Frederick News Post. http://www.fredericknewspost.com/sections/news/display.htm?StoryID=67898. Retrieved 2007-11-24.
- "Detrick mom gets 15 years in poisoning". Associated Press. 2007-05-12. http://www.armytimes.com/news/2008/05/ap_detrickmom_050908/. Retrieved 2007-08-18.
- "Mother accused of making child ill". Frederick News Post. 2007-03-14. http://www.fredericknewspost.com/sections/news/display.htm?StoryID=67898. Retrieved 2007-08-18.