Contributed to TLB by: Health Impact News and Medical Kidnap
Danielle and William Headley’s four boys were seized by South Carolina Child Protective Services in July, following frustration by the parents over the care that their youngest son, Jack, now 4, was receiving at Greenville Memorial Hospital. (See original story here.) A Child Abuse Specialist has accused Danielle of Munchausen by Proxy, and last week, Danielle was arrested on charges of Child Abuse and Neglect.
The family is devastated and maintains that Danielle is innocent of any wrong-doing. It has been over 100 days since any family member has been permitted to see the children.
According to a report from FOX Carolina, investigators told a judge that Jack had made “significant improvements” after he was removed from his parents’ care on July 10 and placed into foster care. That is the basis of the charges against Danielle. However, the family and friends are unsure how any of the events that have unfolded could possibly be Danielle’s fault.
Jack’s Many Diagnosed Conditions
Jack has suffered from a number of medical conditions throughout his young life, beginning in the womb with IUGR – intrauterine growth restriction. Doctors have diagnosed him with Short-Chain Acyl-CoA Dehydrogenase (SCAD) deficiency, a condition that prevents the body from converting certain fats into energy, gastroparesis, asthma, primary immunodeficiency disease, reactive airway disease, hypotonia and FTT (Failure to Thrive). Medical testing has confirmed these conditions.
Because of Jack’s gastroparesis, where the stomach can’t empty food properly, doctors placed a G-tube in July 2014 so that he could be given extra calories when he couldn’t consume enough by mouth.
A Stomach Virus Changes Everything
This worked pretty well until March of this year, when the entire family came down with a stomach bug. For the rest of the family, it lasted 24-48 hours. For Jack, however, with his weakened immune system, the virus affected him much worse. Because of the SCAD deficiency, any time he had vomiting, he needed to be hospitalized and managed in order to prevent a crash in blood sugar and a metabolic crisis. During this time, his gastroparesis flared up. The GI doctor recommended switching the type of feeding tube to a J-tube, one that went straight to the intestines, bypassing his stomach and giving it a chance to heal.
After Jack Is Taken, Hospital Does What His Mother Had Planned to Do All Along
The plan was for feeding to continue this way, allowing his stomach to rest, and for Jack to come back in August for a special dietitian who would show Danielle how to wean him off of the J-tube feedings and increase his eating by mouth. She was to await doctor’s orders to do this.
That never happened.
According to the family, Danielle never asked for any of the feeding tubes or other procedures to be done. She simply followed directions that the doctors gave her.
Ta-Da! He’s Better, so Mom Is Blamed
When the children were seized in July, the doctors with Greenville Memorial Hospital who were treating him at that time began weaning Jack off of the J-tube feedings, just as the Headleys and their doctors had planned to accomplish in August. The process was successful, and after almost 3 weeks in the hospital, Jack went into a foster home. His 3 brothers were placed in a group home.
On this basis, the investigators were able to proclaim that Jack got better once he was away from his mother – a criteria that is viewed by some as being the final nail in the coffin proving the parent’s guilt of Munchausen by Proxy. However, this ignores the fact that Jack’s stomach was on the mend, and that the process for weaning him off of the tube was the very one that his mother would have done just a few weeks later, under doctors’ orders, had she been given the chance. Instead, her accusers are allegedly using this as evidence that she is guilty.
The family says that Jack was already showing signs of improvement after he recovered from the stomach virus. In fact, the day before he was taken from them, the family had been at a pool party and Jack spent all day in the swimming pool, happy as a little fish.
Child Abuse Specialist Doctor Leads to CPS Involvement
Just a couple of weeks prior to the boys being taken in July, Danielle had begun to question Jack’s care at Greenville Hospital. He had developed severe constipation, and in June and July, he had been admitted 3 times to the hospital. When he still wasn’t improving, William Headley reports that he asked an intake pediatrician at Greenville if his son would get better care if they were to switch from their Medicaid to private insurance. The doctor assured him that this was not the case. Headley says that their own pediatrician had recently told them that she didn’t like the way that Greenville Hospital was treating Jack, and she recommended that they switch to private insurance if they could.
They wonder if that request triggered a reaction from the doctors at Greenville, especially in light of something they discovered in the medical records.
Shortly after the boys were taken, the family requested the medical records, including copies of Jack’s inpatient bills from Greenville Memorial. They were alarmed to see that the hospital billed Medicaid for a diagnosis of “dissection of the coronary artery.” This diagnosis is connected to heart attack or aneurysm, and despite all of Jack’s medical conditions, heart problems have never been a part of them. The Headleys wonder what is going on here.
After the Headleys discussed switching to private insurance or another facility in an attempt to get better care for Jack, the staff at the hospital called in Child Abuse Specialist Dr. Nancy Henderson. Allegedly, she has never yet seen Jack or talked with his parents, yet it is based on her diagnosis of Danielle having Munchausen by Proxy that the children were taken. The same doctor is involved in accusing Jason and Mattie Walls of abuse without testing to discover the medical conditions their baby has that explain her injuries.
Danielle Arrested, Bond Hearing Delayed
When the children were first seized, the Headleys say that they believed that an investigation into the facts of the matter would clear them, but they say that isn’t happening. They were blindsided when Investigator Tracy Moss showed up at their home with a warrant for Danielle’s arrest on October 13. This is the same officer who had walked into their home in July while Danielle was sleeping, got the kids up and lined them up in the living room, then woke up Danielle to tell her they were taking the children. Before that day, the Headleys had never seen or heard of her.
William reports that Danielle was at the lawyer’s office when the police came to their house looking for her, but she turned herself in after learning about the warrant. She was scheduled to have a bond hearing that night at 9 pm, but the family reports that they learned that Tracy Moss was responsible for delaying the hearing until 2 pm on the following day:
She wanted it to be put off so that the media could be involved.
During the hearing, the discussion did not center around bond money. Instead, the hearing reportedly focused on ensuring that Danielle not be permitted visitation with her sons. None of the family has seen the children now for more than 100 days. Before the arrest happened, visitation was set to begin at last around October 28. Danielle’s mother Tonda Vess believes that denial of visitation is what the whole arrest incident is about, that CPS is trying to keep them from seeing the boys. The officer reportedly requested a “no-contact order” for Danielle, which the judge granted.
Family Questions the Accusations
Danielle is home now, and William says that she is working with her family and attorney to fight for her children. According to the family, it doesn’t make sense that she is being accused of abuse or Munchausen. She only did what the doctors instructed her to do. She never attended appointments alone, because she has epilepsy and cannot drive. Family members have attend every appointment with her. Her mother doesn’t understand how people can think that a mother can manipulate a doctor into doing unnecessary surgeries, as her daughter stands accused. Her experience has shown her that doctors are not that easily manipulated into doing things they don’t want to do.
They believed the doctors when they told them that procedures or treatments were necessary, but they started questioning things when Jack was admitted to Greenville Hospital 3 times in a short period of time for the same thing without getting better. Isn’t that responsible care from a parent to question things and make sure that their child is being treated properly? Apparently Dr. Henderson and CPS did not think so.
Jack’s Therapy Isn’t Happening in Foster Care
Before the children were taken, Jack had been involved in speech, occupational, and physical therapy. Since that day, he has not been to any of his therapy sessions, and the therapist is concerned. She has reportedly been trying to contact the social worker, the supervisor, the hospital, and foster mother, but to no avail. No one is returning her calls. The family is concerned that the state’s preoccupation with assigning blame to Danielle is hindering their judgment in seeking appropriate medical care for Jack.
South Carolina has a grandparents’ rights law on the books. Also, federal law regarding foster care and Title IV-E funding requires that children taken by Child Protective Services be given to relatives first if they are available, then friends of the family. Foster care and group homes are supposed to be a last resort. However, as hundreds of families we have spoken with can attest, state CPS workers violate this federal law on a daily basis. That doesn’t mean that families are giving up.
The Headley boys have 2 grandmothers who would take them home in a heartbeat if CPS would let them. They have passed the drug tests and background checks. William’s mother was approved years ago to raise 3 of her other grandchildren, who are grown now. Yet, the children remain in foster care, while the grandmothers’ calls to CPS go unanswered. This is unacceptable to them. They believe that family matters and that children need their extended family support. Basic human psychology and sociology backs them up, yet their grandchildren have not only lost their parents for the present time, but also every other person in the world who is related to them.
How You Can Help
The grandmothers, Tonda Vess and Brenda Bradshaw, are planning to rally in front of the DSS office on Tuesday, October 20, from 8:30 am till noon. Anyone who wants to stand up for children being unjustly taken is invited to join them at 630 Chesnee Highway, Spartanburg, SC, 29303.
The Senator for the Headley’s district is Glenn Reese at 864-592-2984864-592-2984. He may be contacted here.
Representative Harold Mitchell Jr. represents their district in Spartanburg at 803-734-6638803-734-6638. He may be contacted here.
The Washington D.C. Representative for the 4th Congressional District is Harold Watson “Trey” Gowdy III at 864-241-0175864-241-0175, 202-225-6030202-225-6030. He can be contacted here.
Spartanburg County Department Social Services – Danielle Bowles at 864-426-3610864-426-3610. Contact their office here.
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