Conviction and prison term holds for so-called Munchausen mom from Cleburne


FORT WORTH (1080 KRLD)- An appeals court has upheld the conviction and prison term for the so-called Munchausen mom from Munchausen mom from Cleburne.

Danita Thetford, Cleburne, is serving a five year sentence for  attempted murder and injury to her son,  allegedly due to Munchausen syndrome by proxy.

At age 13, Colby weighed only 50 pounds after Thetford spent years telling doctors the boy could not hold down food.  She had hospitals perform ileostomy and gastrostomy surgeries.

In reality, doctors later concluded there was no need for the surgeries because there was nothing wrong with the child.  Indeed once away from Thetford, health care workers noticed Colby did not seem to have any of the symptoms his mother described and that he began gaining weight.

A jury deliberated over 24 hours before  finding Thetford not guilty of misleading doctors into performing surgery, but guilty of injury to a child by omission and attempted murder.  She received 5 years in prison and 10-years on probation, respectively.

Thetford appealed on grounds that the trial court erred by denying her motion to quash her attempted-murder indictment for failure to state an offense, that Thetford’s punishments for attempted murder and injury to a child violate the federal Double Jeopardy Clause, and that the trial court erred by instructing the jury with a coercive Allen charge….meaning that the judge directed the jury to continue deliberating even after several notes and conversations where the jury indicated it could not reach a verdict.

The Second Court of Appeals in Fort Worth overruled each of the issues and affirmed both the conviction and sentence.​