The death of Lacey Spears’ 5-year-old son Garnett rocked the world of those she connected with — in real life as well as the extensive online community in which she participated. This tragic situation was compounded by the revelation that she was a suspect in her son’s death and had also likely fabricated many components of her life.
One of Spears’ former friends talked with us about the awful circumstances surrounding the little boy’s death. Like everyone in Spears’ life, she was filled with concern for the small family and was devastated when the news reached her ears that he didn’t make it. “When Garnett was in the hospital for the last time I sent my love and thoughts to Lacey,” she tells us. “I sent her messages telling her how sorry I was that all of this was happening. When she posted he was brain dead I was in shock. He was so young, how did this happen?”
She does admit that she did have a fleeting thought that Spears had a part in Garnett’s death, and felt guilty for thinking that way. However, she found out that she wasn’t alone. “As I was talking to others that were close to her, I wasn’t the only one with suspicions, so when I heard she was being investigated, it broke my heart — but at the same time I was not surprised,” she explains.
Caught up in a web of lies
Garnett’s illness wasn’t the only thing to raise suspicions. Spears had also lied about his father’s death. “Me and most of her friends in Florida cut ties with Lacey a few years ago because we caught on to her lies,” she shares. “She lied about everything from Garnett’s father to the house she lived in. Pretty much everything and anything that came out of her mouth was fabricated or just a flat out lie and we all caught on to that.”
Seeing the disparity between Spears’ online presence and how she was in person was distressing for her former friend. “I think she left Florida with not many friends except for those who followed her on Facebook in which she created another world for herself,” she says. “Made herself out to be this gentle, raw-food-eating, Waldorf mom when in person she was very odd and short tempered with Garnett.”
Another former acquaintance spoke with us and said that since she didn’t know Spears well, her online posting didn’t seem too out of the ordinary at all. She tells us that she had shared her story but didn’t make it a point to shove it in the face of others, and that even when things didn’t seem to add up, it wasn’t a huge deal. “When I saw red flags, I pretty much chalked them up to the fact that I didn’t know enough about their situation to make a judgment call,” she explains. “That maybe anything that I saw that was off or off-kilter was because I didn’t know the whole situation or know them well enough to be concerned.”
A life cut short
Spears was raising her little boy by herself and had developed a strong online presence. She was not a “mommy blogger” (even though she did have a blog with two posts), but she was like many of us moms — she ingrained herself into an online community and had friends, both online and in the “real” world, who supported her in her struggles.
For her son Garnett was ill, and was ill often. Spears described him as a sickly little boy, and spoke often of his medical history. He had endured many hospitalizations and procedures, and he even had a feeding tube in place so he could receive essential nutrition for what she described as “failure to thrive.”
Authorities suspect the feeding tube was how Garnett ultimately passed away. Neighbors reported seeing her feed the boy with the feeding tube shortly before he arrived at a hospital after suffering from a seizure, and after transfer to another hospital, the staff discovered that his sodium levels were dangerously elevated. A call from Spears to a neighbor asking her to dispose of the bag wound up revealing that it had contained high levels of sodium when it was handed over to the authorities. He ultimately succumbed from the effects of sodium poisoning.
Constant social media presence
Throughout Garnett’s illnesses, and even his final illness, it’s reported that Spears continued to post often on social media — complete with photographs — and even documented his final moment with a Facebook post. It has been suggested that she may suffer from a psychological disorder called factitious disorder imposed on another (formerly known as Munchausen syndrome by proxy), which is where a person neglects or intentionally causes harm to someone in their care for medical attention or financial gain.
The prevalence of social media gives a new angle on this condition, where one can receive support from virtually anywhere, and investigators suspect that the ease of sharing was a manifestation that had not played out in earlier cases similar to this.
However, it makes you wonder, too, about how we often rush to the aid of another mother in distress, a mom with a sick child, or one who has experienced a sudden death or another tragedy. Nearly all of these situations are legit, but can you imagine what a huge blow it would be to find out that your feelings had been played the entire time? Because once you become a mother all children, in a way, belong to you. The desire to help and protect every child is natural, and to have that inherent trust destroyed is devastating.
Spears has pleaded not guilty and is currently awaiting a July 2 court date.