Understanding and Investigating Munchausen by Proxy (Medical Child Abuse)
In 1977, British pediatrician Dr. Roy Meadow wrote up two cases of mothers whom he believed were intentionally making their children sick in order to get attention and sympathy from medical providers, friends and family. He termed this condition Munchausen by proxy, piggybacking off the name Munchausen syndrome, given years earlier to patients who induced illness in themselves. Since first identified, Munchausen by proxy has been surrounded by controversy; is it a mental illness or is it a form of child abuse? Are these caretakers simply overly involved parents who fall under suspicion simple because they dare to question doctors, or are they putting on a nurturing act to get their own needs met? On this episode of Thread of Evidence, Host Dr. Joni Johnston talks to Mike Weber, the most experienced criminal investigator of medical child abuse in the United States. He’ll talk about his experience with these cases, the challenges they present, and the ongoing need for education about this potentially deadly crime.
Detective Weber has 35 years law enforcement experience, including 12 years as a crimes against children investigator. Detective Weber was awarded the 2016 NCMEC Texas Hero for Children Award for the investigation of Geronimo Aguilar. Detective Weber has investigated 22 case of Medical Child Abuse that have led to 6 convictions, 2 cases pending trial, and 3 cases currently under investigation.