true crime

Hannah was 7 years old when her mum told her she was seriously ill. Only she was never sick.

Hannah Milbrandt was just seven years old when tragedy struck.

Her mum Teresa told her she had leukaemia. She shaved the little girl’s head, bandaged it and gave her pills.

While other kids were out playing, Hannah was sent to death counselling, designed to help terminally ill patients prepare for the end of their lives.

Teresa Milbrandt turned to the close-knit community of her hometown Urbana, Ohio for support and the community rallied.

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More than 60 people and business donated to fundraising events the Milbrandts organised, raising an estimated US$31,000 (AUD$41,500) towards Hannah’s medical bills.

After months of fundraising, Hannah’s teacher began to notice something odd – Hannah’s hair was growing back.

The observation sparked a police investigation where the truth was finally revealed. Hannah was never sick.

Hannah, now 21 and a student at Wittenberg University, still remembers the events of 2002 clearly.

“I remember a lot (of what happened). I remember feeling somewhat sick but not to the point of how I was being made out to be… but then I found out it was all not true,” Hannah told the Daily Mail.

Hannah doesn't speak to her mother anymore. (Image via Facebook.)

In 2003, Hannah's parents were convicted of child endangerment and sentenced to jail.

Teresa was jailed for six and a half years for theft and child endangerment.

Robert maintained that he had not set out to defraud the town and had no idea his daughter wasn't ill, saying his wife took Hannah to all her doctor's appointments. Still, he pleaded guilty to child endangerment and served four years and 11 months in prison.


Hannah, who was raised by foster parents, reunited with her father after he left jail and the pair are still close.

She doesn't speak to her mother.

Hannah now studies at a local university. (Image via Facebook.)

"My mother is still not a part of my life today and I'm thankful for that because she is a very toxic person and I don't need that," she told the Daily Mail.

"Deep down I have this fear of being around her because she's not somebody I can trust and as far as I am concerned she ruined my life."

It's suspected Hannah was a victim of Malingering by Proxy. Malingering differs from Munchausen, in that the parent or caregiver is not seeking to meet psychological needs by inducing illness, but rather for financial gain.

The lasting impacts of the abuse can be health problems, both physical and mental.

Hannah was not spared from this suffering and recalled attempting suicide multiple times as a teen before seeking professional help for depression.

While she still feels the effects of her childhood trauma, Hannah is moving on with her life.

The university student told she had "taken a lot more positive than I have negative" out of the situation.

"Everything I’ve been through has made me who I am, and I am very proud of the person that I have become. It’s been a giant life lesson that I wouldn’t take any of that back."

If you are seeking support please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.