true crime

The mummy blogger who murdered her son with salt.

Content warning: this story includes descriptions of child abuse that may be distressing to some readers.

To her social media followers, Lacey Spears was a devoted mother doing the best she could despite the difficult hand life had dealt her. To her defenders, she was a 'loving' mother trying to take care of her sick child. To prosecutors, Spears' care for her son was calculated, dangerous and "nothing short of torture".

In a New York courtroom in 2015, with the world's eyes fixed on the outwardly normal 27-year-old Alabama native, Spears was found guilty of second-degree murder – she had poisoned her son with high levels of sodium through his feeding tube, which led to swelling in his brain until he died in 2014.

Lacey's son, Garnett-Paul Thompson Spears was born in 2008, and very early on he would be admitted to the hospital on a regular basis, for everything from high fevers to ear infections, convulsions, and gastrointestinal problems. Spears repeatedly told doctors her son was 'ill'. On the stand, doctors said the cause of Garnett's illnesses was always uncertain, but she was adamant her son needed treatment.

Watch: Lacey Spears speaks out on what happened to her son, Garnett. Post continues below.

Video via CBS New York.

Close to reaching eight months of age, Garnett was admitted to the hospital with Lacey complaining that he couldn't keep food down. A feeding tube – a temporary treatment for patients with specific medical conditions – was fitted at Lacey's request – he wasn't eating, he was losing weight, and this would be a solution. 

But he was growing. In fact, people who knew the Chestnut Ridge mother and son said they recall Garnett being an enthusiastic eater. Why the need for a feeding tube?

"The motive is bizarre, the motive is scary, but it exists," said Assistant District Attorney Patricia Murphy in Lacey's trial. "She apparently craved the attention of her family, her friends, her co-workers and most particularly the medical profession."

Undoubtedly, Lacey also enjoyed the attention her blog, Garnett's Journey, garnered. She posted updates and photos regularly and was extremely active on social media, primarily Facebook. In the blog, she laments Garnett's health problems, all the hospital visits, her sadness and stress, and how much she loves her son. There are also poignant stories about a man called Blake.

Posting on her blog on September 18, 2022, she shared, "We have survived nearly 365 days, a complete year without Blake, my soulmate and Garnett's Daddy. It hasn't been easy or even remotely enjoyable. The past year has been the hardest year of my life..."


All very touching and sad but slightly odd, given Blake wasn't Garnett’s father or Lacey's soulmate. Blake, a supposed police officer who had died in a car accident before Garnett's birth, didn't exist at all. Lacey's former neighbour, Chris Hill, whom she briefly dated, was Garnett's father.

Spear's life online and off transpired to be nothing but fantasy – Hill had been trying to find his son and was devastated when he discovered what happened. 

On January 23, 2014, Garnett was admitted to the hospital for the last time. Lacey told doctors he had been having seizures, but they found nothing – except extremely high sodium levels in his blood.

The prosecution said that having administered salt at her home, Spears then continued this at the hospital twice more – jurors saw video footage of Lacey taking her son into the bathroom with a connector tube, and Garnett returning to bed looking visibly ill. As she had done every time her son was in hospital, Lacey documented this visit and posted photos across all her social media accounts. This time, however, she was posting pictures of her son dying on Facebook. Later that day, five-year-old Garnett passed away.

"She used that feeding tube as a weapon to kill him," Assistant District Attorney Doreen Lloyd said. 

Lacey Spears with her son, Garnett, at the hospital days before his death. Image: Facebook.


Throughout her trial, Lacey maintained her innocence. Her defence lawyer, Stephen Riebling, said there was no "direct evidence" of a crime. But the evidence was in plain sight.

Two feeding bags found in Spears' apartment were heavily tainted with salt (including one that Spears asked a friend to hide); one bag had the equivalent of 69 McDonald's salt packets in it, a forensic toxicologist testified.


Her posts on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and Garnett's Journey, and her online research – including a search on the dangers of sodium in children – were also used as evidence.

Munchausen by proxy, a disorder in which a caretaker or guardian purposely does harm to a child to attract sympathy and attention, was never brought up in her trial. But Judge Neary referred to it in his sentencing saying, "Instead of nurturing and protecting a beautiful child, you subjected him to five years of torment and pain; one does not have to be a psychologist to realise you suffer from a mental illness known by Munchausen by proxy."

Judge Neary sentenced Lacey to 20 years to life, rather than the maximum of 25 years, as he believed she suffered from mental illness. "By not imposing the maximum sentence, I'm combining punishment with something that you really did not exhibit towards your son – namely, mercy."

Spears continues to maintain her innocence and talks of her difficulty in prison. She told RadarOnline, "You always have to look behind your back, and I don't trust anyone… I hear them talking behind my back, calling me 'baby killer', 'child killer', and 'mother of the year'. But I know it's not who I am."

Spears will be eligible for parole in 2034, aged 46.

If you or someone you know is at risk of violence, contact: 1800 RESPECT.

Feature Image: CBS News.