Mother faked daughter’s illness, girl believed she didn’t have long to live: authorities

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Girl went through counseling to cope with her own death, documents say

CANTON, Ohio (WJW)– A Northeast Ohio mother is under investigation after she’s accused of raising thousands of dollars and claiming her daughter was dying of a terminal illness. 

Authorities now say the mother faked the girl’s illness and even led the now-11-year-old to believe she didn’t have much longer to live.

The girl has been taken from the mother and placed in temporary custody by the Stark County Department of Job and Family Service. Investigators said the mother raised money by playing on the sympathy of friends, residents and even local college sports teams.

“Her doctors were concerned that the sport was a little bit too physical for her with her medical condition,” Lindsey Abbuhl told FOX 8 during an interview in Canton in February. FOX 8 is choosing to no longer identify her daughter, who was 10 years old at the time.

Abbuhl said her daughter’s dream of becoming a college and professional softball player would never become a reality because she was dying from a terminal medical condition.

“So we had to make the tough decision last year that she was going to walk away and not be able to play anymore,” she said during the interview.

Abbuhl garnered sympathy and donations, claiming her daughter’s central nervous system was failing and her brain was slowly shutting down.

But according to court documents filed by the Stark County Department of Job and Family Services, the agency received information last Wednesday the mother had been using the unsupported medical diagnosis, “To obtain trips, housing, and other expenses over the last several years.”

“After a thorough review of the girl’s medical records… The medical professional indicates there is no evidence to support mother’s claim that (the girl) is terminally ill.”

Even more disturbing, the complaint stated the girl, “Has been engaged in counseling for the past three years to learn how to “process her own death.'” The complaint also said the mother told the counselor, who is going on maternity leave, that the girl may not be alive when the counselor returns.

On Thursday, police went to the home, and when confronted, the report indicated the mother responded, “We did not intentionally do that.”

Earlier this year, the Malone University softball team learned about the girl’s alleged condition and shared her story across the country. They invited her to throw out the first pitch at a scrimmage against Walsh University.

In a statement Monday, a Malone University spokesman told FOX 8, “Our actions were consistent with the ethos of our Christian community as we attempted to help a family in need. As other details emerge surrounding the family, they do not change our intent and desire to do the right thing and show kindness to (the girl) and those who love her.”

A GoFundMe page for the girl raised more than $4,000.  A spokesperson for GoFundMe told FOX 8 that anyone who donated to the fund can receive a refund, and they will work with local law enforcement and continue to support the investigation.

The Stark County Sheriff’s Office said the case is open and under investigation, but would not comment further.

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