The nurse who made her daughter sick because her life was 'boring'.

"My sugar gets low, and then I get sick. I get a seizure." 

Those are the words seven-year-old Dani Miller spoke to the east Texas news crews when they arrived at her house to film the family's plea with the community to help them get a service dog to help Dani manage her rare form of diabetes day-to-day. 

According to her mother, Ellen Rupp-Jones, the little girl had a condition known as MODY, which limited her pancreas’ ability to produce insulin and could later cause damage to her kidneys, nerves, eyes and blood vessels.

But Dani was merely the puppet in her mother's sick game. As a nurse at Palestine Regional Medical Center in Texas, Rupp-Jones had access to fast-acting insulin and glucagon – giving her the tools she needed to lower and raise her young daughter's insulin levels when she chose.

Rupp-Jones was arrested in June 2019, aged 36, following allegations she had been injecting Dani with unneeded insulin. After they took Dani from the mother's care, Child Protective Services claimed that Rupp-Jones had Munchausen's by proxy – a mental illness and a form of child abuse in which a caretaker, usually the mother, fakes or creates symptoms to make their child appear sick.

For Rupp-Jones, her medical expertise gave her the perfect chance to hide her lies in plain sight. 

Fooling her family and a community.

Eager for attention of any kind, Rupp-Jones turned to the local TV stations to tell her story in late 2018.

East Texas news station KLTV gave her the platform she craved, airing the mother’s pleas for funding to buy her little girl a diabetic alert dog. The ‘DADs’ had a price tag of up to $35,000.


In the news segment, Rupp-Jones explained, “A lot of times, when she’s low, she’ll get really tired and she will want you to hold her.”

The family had no insurance, but Rupp-Jones’ supposed hardships were heard throughout the community. Days later, Dani had a service dog, Yankee, ready to help with her needs. A local church is also believed to have raised $4000 for the Paws for Dani account, which ended up being used up for everyday expenses. 

Dani’s family had no reason not to believe everything they were told about her condition. “I make sure she comes first, just like chores, or homework and school work,” her brother Maverick said.

Meanwhile, Rupp-Jones played the devoted and grateful mother to perfection, telling the community, “Having this extra security, our extra family member to kind of step in and not put a hand in but put a paw in to help us; I mean there’s no words to describe on how this is as a parent.”

A web of lies.

Little Dani. Image: KLTV


People with Munchausen’s by proxy syndrome are often accomplished liars, and Rupp-Jones was no different. 

It was an endocrinologist at UT Health and Tarrant County Sheriff’s investigator, Michael Weber, who worked together to unravel the nurse’s web of lies.

And it wasn’t just her daughter’s fake illness that Rupp-Jones was manipulating the truth about. She falsely told some people that her first husband had died in combat, a tragedy which led to her losing their unborn baby. Her ex-husband says that she told him lie after lie, including that she had delivered their baby stillborn via c-section.

Elsewhere, she claimed that she had battled cancer, and had also served as an Air Force veteran in the Iraq war. One news report even described her as having "an extensive military background".


Without a doubt, though, it was her dangerous lies about her daughter Dani’s state of health that did the most harm.  

The young girl had hypoglycemia – low blood sugar – but high insulin levels, leading the endocrinologist to suspect she could have insulin poisoning. He was already cautious of Rupp-Jones’ authenticity, after a seemingly routine medical conversation between them rang some alarm bells.

While discussing Dani’s "condition", the mother informed the doctor that she too had diabetes, while also dropping the lie that she had served in the military. She couldn't have guessed that the doctor had also served, and therefore had the insider knowledge that diabetics are restricted from enlisting in the armed forces.

Weber began investigating Rupp-Jones in January 2019, soon after the endocrinologist shared his fears.

Rupp-Jones took Dani to Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth next, telling doctors there that her daughter had been diagnosed with diabetes in Kentucky. However, when staff tried to verify Rupp-Jones' claims, doctors in Kentucky informed them that Dani had never been tested for diabetes.

Soon after, the young girl was taken into foster care. 

The disgraced mother showed little contrition over the lies she'd doled out, even appearing defensive when investigators confronted her about everything. "I lied about my life to embellish my life a little bit better," she said. 

"Sorry that my life is so [expletive] stupid and boring and nonchalant that I have nothing."

Dani's aunt, Debbi Cole, believes it was more than boredom that fuelled Rupp-Jones' sadistic behaviour. "I think she is sick and has some deep issues that [have] to be resolved,” said Cole. "We feel that there is a lot about her that we don’t know about."


What happened to Dani?

Ellen Rupp-Jones. Image: KWTX

It's believed that for the past four and a half years, Dani has been safely living with her dad. She's been eating a regular, balanced diet and hasn't needed any insulin.


Rupp-Jones didn't have her case heard until June 27 this year, when she waived her right to a jury trial and pleaded guilty to two counts of injury to a child, one count of exploitation of a child, and two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

District Attorney Allyson Mitchell was happy with the outcome, explaining, "The only way to guarantee a victim and their family that the person who harmed them is held to justice is by a plea."

The disgraced mother was given 59 days as a condition of probation with time served, and placed on deferred adjudication probation for eight years. She was fined, ordered to complete 300 hours of community service, and told to pay back the fraudulent funds for buying service dog Yankee.

Rupp-Jones also cannot contact Dani or any other immediate family members.

Mitchell added, "It is horrifying that a mother would treat her own child for a medical condition that she does not have. We are grateful that the case is resolved. The child has been afforded the opportunity to live a happy and healthy life in her new safe family environment."

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Feature image: KLTV.

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