Last week, Victoria Morrison’s friends were grieving for her.
Morrison’s 10-year-old son had died, following a battle with leukaemia. At least, that’s what Morrison had told them.
But they were in for a shock: her son was, in fact, alive and well.
On Friday night, Morrison was arrested. The Nevada mum-of-four was charged with obtaining money by false pretences, as well as child abuse, for allegedly telling her son he was dying.
Carson City sheriff Kenny Furlong says Morrison’s son was diagnosed with a treatable illness more than a year ago.
“But she used embellished medical information to convince the child, the schools and the public that he was terminally ill,” he adds.
The young boy missed months of school. An account was set up on GoFundMe, where Morrison talked about how her world had fallen apart when she found out her “baby” had leukaemia. She said he had made a list of things he wanted to do before he got too sick.
"But I'm a single mum to three other kids and work,” she added.
“So please if you have a spare dollar, help me help my son’s wishes and dreams come true."
Morrison raised around $2000 through GoFundMe. As well as that, many other people donated directly to the family. Her son’s teacher gave Morrison two $100 gift cards. The Carson City community also rallied around the boy. Just before Christmas, he was featured in the local media when emergency services banded together to take him for a ride in a helicopter.
"It brought tears to my eyes when I heard about the story,” Care Flight clinical manager Markus Dorsey-Hirt said at the time.
“We are glad that we can do something for him to enjoy and something special.”
Morrison’s Facebook page reveals a string of status updates related to her son’s supposed death.
On April 9, she posted: “It's been two nights that you've been gone and it's not getting easier. I miss you so damn much... please come back to Momma.” Later, she added: “Will these tears ever stop?”
On April 10, she asked her friends for advice on the memorial service, and explained that her other children weren’t going because “they want to spread his ashes with me”.
On April 14, she posted, “I finally slept!!! Thank you, Jesus.” Hours later, there was a long status update telling people she was “fed up with all the rumours”. That night she was arrested.
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A woman had informed police that Morrison’s spouse had told her the boy was still alive, and had shown her photos as proof, as well as giving a current address. Police had contacted Morrison, who said her son had died in a hospice a few days earlier and been cremated. But the county coroner had no record of the death.
Police visited the address given by the woman, and found the boy alive and well, staying at a motel. He reportedly said his mother and her boyfriend were planning on taking him on a “hunting trip” on the weekend.
All four of Morrison’s children have been placed in the custody of state protective services.
A spokesperson for GoFundMe, Katherine Cichy, says the contributions made on behalf of the boy will be refunded to donors.
Morrison is facing up to 20 years in prison.