Desperate Mom Faked Girl's Cancer

Teresa Milbrandt, left, 35, is shown with her daughter Hannah in this undated family photo. Police say Milbrandt tried to trick her daughter and community into thinking the girl had cancer so she could raise money
AP
A woman imprisoned for faking her daughter's leukemia to gain thousands of dollars in donations said she concocted the scheme to keep her husband from leaving.

Teresa Milbrandt told The Columbus Dispatch for a story in Sunday's editions that she regrets what she did, which included shaving her daughter Hannah's head and giving her sleeping pills to make it look like she was undergoing chemotherapy. She also made Hannah wear a protective mask and put her in counseling to prepare for death.

"Last week, I said to someone, 'I wonder if I could pay the doctor and have him give me a lethal injection,"' she told the newspaper in an interview at the Ohio Reformatory for Women. "I can't hardly live in my own skin."

Milbrandt was sentenced to 6½ years in prison after pleading guilty last August to felony charges of endangering children, grand theft and theft.

Authorities said Milbrandt and her husband fooled 65 people and businesses in their hometown of Urbana into donating an estimated $31,000 for Hannah's treatment.

Robert Milbrandt was sentenced to four years and 11 months in prison. He has said his wife handled all doctor visits and medical bills and that he believed her when she said their daughter had cancer.

Teresa Milbrandt said the ruse began in early 2002 during intense arguments with her husband.

"I knew how much he cared about Hannah and if she's sick, I thought, he's not going to leave us. I just said she had cancer and next thing I know, people were giving me money," she said.

Hannah Milbrandt, now 8, has been placed in a foster home and is doing well, said James R. Smith, director of the Champaign County Department of Job and Family Services.