Mom who sought 'Make-A-Wish' donations for daughter now charged with her murder

A Colorado mother who received media coverage and thousands of dollars of donations after her daughter was allegedly diagnosed with a terminal illness has now been charged in the girl's murder.

Kelly Renee Turner, 41, was arrested last Friday, more than two years after her daughter, 7-year-old Olivia Gant, died from what authorities believed at the time were natural medical causes. 

But a new grand jury indictment revealed on Monday alleges that Turner actually caused Gant's death herself. The indictment lists 13 total charges against the 41-year-old, including first-degree murder, child abuse, theft and charitable fraud.

Olivia, who was born in 2010, started getting treatment for a variety of ailments at Children's Hospital Colorado in 2013. However, several doctors at the hospital told investigators the girl did not have a terminal illness.

Turner, for her part, consistently claimed her daughter was dying — a claim that resulted in the family receiving thousands of dollars in donations. According to the indictment, the mom received more than $11,000 from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which donates gifts and experiences to critically ill children.

She also received more than $22,000 in donations from a GoFundMe campaign, called "Peace 4 Olivia," which the company has since banned from its site. A GoFundMe spokesperson told KMGH-TV that the company is in the process of generating refunds to donors.  

"We are deeply disturbed by the allegations in this case and intend to follow it closely in the hope of learning exactly what happened," Make-A-Wish Colorado spokesperson Sarah Murphy said in a statement Monday.

Turner is also accused of defrauding Medicaid and HealthFirst Colorado of more than $500,000 over several years, in addition to the funeral home and cemetery where Olivia was buried of additional costs.

"Us being a victim of theft is so minor compared to what happened to her daughter that it's irrelevant," Rebecca Holm, director of customer care at Seven Stones Cemetery, told KUSA-TV.

NBC reported that the investigation into Olivia's death began last year, after Turner brought her older daughter into the hospital with "bone pain." The incident also alleges that the mom spontaneously brought up Munchausen syndrome by proxy — a psychological disorder in which caregivers seek attention for the illnesses of people they look after, even sometimes causing those illnesses themselves — in an interview with investigators.

"That has never been my case, like at all, whatsoever," Turner said in the interview.

Investigators then separated Turner from her daughter to see if she would continue to report injuries and illnesses. The girl, now 11, has reported no serious issues since the two were separated last October.

One of the charges against Turner relates to her treatment of the 11-year-old, saying she allowed the girl to "be unreasonably placed in a situation which posed a threat of injury."

The 41-year-old also faces three counts of charitable fraud, with the indictment noting the attention Turner received due to her daughter's illness. KCNC-TV reported that Olivia was featured multiple times in local media as she sought to achieve experiences on her "bucket list" — such as riding in a police car and spraying a firefighter's hose — before she died.

Turner is currently being held without bond at the Douglas County Detention Facility. It is unclear yet if she has hired an attorney or entered any sort of plea deal.

Read Full Story