Dallas mother accused of faking son's cancer diagnosis
A North Texas mother is accused of child abuse after police records allege she made her son sick for years and faked his illness on purpose.
His whole life, Christopher Bowen believed he was sick because his mother told him so. She took him to hundreds of doctors' visits and suffered life-threatening infections. But experts believe his mother, Kaylene Bowen-Wright, exaggerated his failing health, putting her little boy in danger.
Officials involved in this case believe Bowen-Wright’s behavior fits the disorder known as Munchausen by proxy, in which someone causes, exaggerates or lies about a person's medical problems to get attention.
The mother is accused of telling people her son had cancer and setting up online fundraisers to raise money for her son who has been sick his entire life, possibly all because of her actions.
Christopher has been sick much of his life, off and on feeding tubes and oxygen. He’s been hospitalized hundreds of times. But now, doctors say he's medically okay ever since his mother was arrested two weeks ago for making him sick.
Bowen-Wright is charged with injury to a child causing serious bodily injury. She appeared in Dallas County court Monday as her attorney, Mike Howard, argued to reduce her bail from $150,000 to $25,000.
“Kaylene loves her children very much,” Howard said. “Everything she's done has been out of concern for her children and their wellbeing.”
Dallas Police Detective Kimberly Mayfield was assigned to the case and testified that the abuse started when Christopher was in neonatal intensive care as a premature baby at just 11 days old. She said that Bowen-Wright was seen dumping out his bottles and then lying to nurses, saying he finished them.
The detective testified that Christopher had three life-threatening blood infections related to his central lines and feeding tubes and testified that Bowen-Wright ignored doctors' orders and went doctor shopping, exaggerating his condition and moving him from Children's in Dallas to Texas Children's in Houston.
“She would tell one doctor in Houston one thing and another doctor of a different specialty in Houston something different to the point where the doctors finally determined it was medical child abuse,” Mayfield explained.
The detective says police got involved last month when Bowen-Wright brought him back to Children's in Dallas claiming he had a seizure.
Bowen-Wright's mother, Twila Wright, testified that Bowen-Wright stopped working and started collecting disability when Christopher got sick as a baby. She testified that Bowen-Wright had set up multiple online fundraising accounts over the years, collecting thousands of dollars for Christopher's medical expenses.
Christopher's father is no longer in a relationship with Bowen-Wright and lost custody of his son. He now has an online fundraiser of his own to help him regain custody, posting that Christopher is "in good spirits.” However, police say, mentally, Christopher still believes he is ill and is not going to survive.
“He really believes he's dying,” Mayfield said. “He really believes he needs to be on oxygen and on a feeding tube.”
Christopher has two half-siblings. Each of them are now living with a foster family.
Bowen-Wright has been able to see her kids during supervised visits. But per conditions of her reduced bond, she can no longer have contact with them. Her mother is also fighting for custody.
Child Protective Services were at the grandmother's home Monday doing a study to see if that could be a suitable place for the children. It will be discussed at a CPS custody hearing Wednesday afternoon.