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Report: Mom accused of poisoning son had history of abuse

CHESTNUT RIDGE, N.Y. - A 5-year-old boy whose mother allegedly poisoned him to death with salt had been diagnosed with elevated sodium levels prior to his first birthday, but hospital staff reportedly did not share this suspected abuse with authorities, reports The Journal News.

The paper reportedly obtained a copy of Garnett Spears' child fatality report which contains Alabama medical records showing there was concern about the "emotional stability" of the boy's mother, 26-year-old Lacey Spears, as many as five years ago. The records reveal that the mom - accused of killing Garnett in January - "[presumably] suffered from Postpartum Depression and Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy," a form of medical child abuse where a parent intentionally makes their child sick for sympathy or attention.

Spears pleaded not guilty in June to charges of second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter in Garnett's Jan. 23 death in Valhalla, N.Y. She is currently being held without bail at the Westchester County jail.

The report states that, when Garnett was only five weeks old, Lacey Spears "verbalized that she wanted to harm" him, and was referred to "Medical Social Services for interpersonal conflict, stress and dysfunction" about a month later.

But the Journal News reports there is no indication of follow-up noted in the fatality report and that the Alabama Department of Human Resources, which investigates child abuse, said Thursday they had no known record of hypernatremia - elevated levels of sodium - being reported in the child or suspicions that his mother had Munchausen.

Spears wrote in great detail on social media sites about Garnett's medical crises, up to and including his death. She is accused of poisoning the boy with sodium through his stomach tube, resulting in brain swelling, the paper reports. The child fatality report, obtained by The Journal News from the New York State Office of Children and Families under the Freedom of Information Law, shows that police and social workers were investigating a formal complaint against Spears two days before her son died.

The Journal News previously reported that Florida child welfare authorities twice investigated Spears in 2011, once for reportedly slapping Garnett and letting him swim with bleeding ears and again for not following medical recommendations to ensure he gained weight. The department found the boy was at "immediate risk" for neglect, but there was no follow-up and Spears moved to a secluded Fellowship Community in Chestnut Ridge, N.Y., the following year.

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