A Colorado woman who said her 7-year-old daughter died of a terminal illness in 2017 has now been accused of murder after authorities said that she fabricated the child’s medical conditions.
Kelly Renee Turner, aka Kelly Gant, was indicted Monday on 13 counts, including first-degree murder, child abuse, and charitable fraud in connection with the death of her daughter, Olivia Gant.
Turner, 41, was arrested Friday and is being held without bond at the Douglas County Detention Facility, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said. It was unclear Monday if she had an attorney.
Turner is also accused of defrauding the Medicaid system of more than $538,000, deceptively raising $22,270 from GoFundMe and $11,264 from Make-A-Wish Foundation, and ripping off a funeral home and cemetery, according to a copy of the grand jury indictment provided to BuzzFeed News.
She also allegedly lied to doctors about her other daughter’s cancer diagnosis. The other daughter, who is now 11, has never been diagnosed with cancer, the indictment said.
Olivia Gant died Aug. 20, 2017, after what her obituary claimed was a “long battle” with a “rare disease” that her mother said led to intestinal failure.
The investigation into Turner began in 2018 after a primary care doctor became suspicious about Turner’s claims that her 11-year-old daughter had been treated for childhood cancer and soon confirmed that the diagnosis was fake.
An initial Human Services report in Jefferson County then noted that Turner’s younger daughter had died in 2017 after being featured on local and national news. The report said there was a concern that Turner “may have been benefiting from this attention” and that she had a “financial and social motivation for her children’s medical conditions, both real and fictitious.”
The report also said there was a concern that Turner had “lied about the children’s medical conditions and therefore may have caused harm to the children and or caused them to have significant medical procedures.”
An autopsy of Olivia in 2018 then found there was a lack of “anatomical findings” to account for her stated cause of death as intestinal failure and also a lack of findings “to support many of the conditions Turner claimed [Olivia] suffered from,” the indictment said.
The indictment alleged that Turner had provided a false medical history for Olivia, including autism, seizures, hydrocephaly, and numerous birth-related disorders that she listed on the GoFundMe page she created in 2015 to purportedly help with Olivia’s medical and travel expenses.
Turned also claimed on the fundraising campaign — titled “Peace for Princess Olivia” — that her daughter had been diagnosed with a terminal disease called neurogastrointestinal encephalomyopathy, which “causes the entire body to shut down a system at a time” and for which there is no cure.
Turner allegedly got a doctor to sign a “do not resuscitate” directive for Olivia and requested to withdraw her daughter’s medical care and her total parenteral nutrition (TPN) line, which supplied daily nutrition to Olivia.
However, several pediatric doctors and surgeons who treated Olivia later told authorities that Olivia did not have a terminal illness and was not diagnosed with many of the medical conditions that Turner told doctors she suffered from. The indictment said that the doctors relied on Turner as a primary source of information for Olivia’s medical history.
Some doctors also said that despite advising Turner against withdrawing her daughter’s medical care and sending her to hospice, Turner insisted, stating that her daughter had a life-limiting disease and a poor quality of life.
Dr. Robert Kramer, a pediatric gastroenterologist who treated Olivia from 2013 to 2017, told authorities that he did not diagnose Olivia with any of the diseases that Turner had mentioned on the GoFundMe page.
A spokesperson for GoFundMe told BuzzFeed News Tuesday, that Turner's account has been banned. The spokesperson said that GoFundMe "will process refunds for any donors as we work with law enforcement officials."
Kramer described Olivia as “social and very talkative” and did not think that she was autistic.
Kramer, along with several other pediatric doctors, told detectives that Olivia was not a terminal patient and did not show the symptoms of the conditions that Turner claimed she suffered from.
The doctor said that he was “shocked” when he heard that Turner had withdrawn all her medical care and that Olivia had died.
After Olivia died, Turned posted a lengthy update on the GoFundMe page, saying, “The death of a loved one at any age is tough.”
“I know I will have bad days, I know I will struggle but I know who holds my sweet bat princes [sic] and that 'No More Owies Princess Olivia' is EXACTLY what she asked for, what I prayed for and what God answered,” Turner wrote.
In an interview with a detective in 2018, Turner denied fabricating her children’s medical conditions. She herself brought up Munchausen syndrome by proxy during the interview but denied that it applied it to her.
Turner told the detective that she knew the syndrome meant “when a parent or caretaker makes their child sick on purpose, or does things related to their child’s illness for attention,” the indictment said.
She also said that she understood that the syndrome meant that a parent or caretaker wanted the attention for themselves. “That has never been my case, like at all, whatsoever,” Turner told the detective. “You can talk to anyone that stood by my side through and all of this.”
Turner said that if she had anything to “hide” she wouldn’t have signed medical record release forms.
She allegedly eventually admitted fabricating her other daughter’s childhood cancer diagnosis but maintained that Olivia’s medical conditions were legitimate.
Another pediatric surgeon, Dr. John Bealer, described Turner as a “high maintenance mother” who was “not afraid of surgery” for her daughter. Bealer was also skeptical about Olivia’s cause of death as intestinal failure.
A pediatric neurologist, Dr. Kristen Park, told authorities that Turner refused to stop giving Olivia medication for seizures despite Park telling Turner that the little girl did not have seizures and that the medication could cause psychosis, mood swings, and other behavioral problems.
The most recent case involving Munchausen syndrome by proxy garnered widespread media attention. Dee Dee Blanchard, who spent years pretending that her daughter, Gypsy Rose Blanchard, suffered from several debilitating diseases and forced her to use a wheelchair, was murdered by Gypsy’s boyfriend in 2015.
Gypsy told police she was being abused and admitted to asking her boyfriend to kill her mother. She later pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and is serving a 10-year prison sentence. Her boyfriend, Nicholas Godejohn, was sentenced to life in prison for killing Dee Dee Blanchard.