A Colorado woman, who shared with InsideEdition.com the story of her daughter’s quest to complete her bucket list before the illness she was believed to have had took her life, has now been charged with murder in the little girl’s death, officials said.
Kelly Renee Turner, 41, was arrested Friday in connection to the 2017 death of her 7-year-old daughter, Olivia Gant.
Olivia’s death on Aug. 20, 2017, came “after a long battle to a rare disease” that required “many operations and numerous stays in the hospital,” her obituary at the time said.
Four months earlier, Turner, who was also known as Kelly Gant, told InsideEdition.com her daughter was battling a rare disorder impacting organ functionality, all while fighting to fulfill her dreams.
Olivia made headlines that week when she was made a firefighter for a day, not long after being made a police officer for a day and being treated to a ride in a helicopter.
“There’s not a lot the doctors can do anymore, so we decided to let her come home and be comfortable, and hopefully be able to fulfill all of her wishes,” Turner told InsideEdition.com in April 2017. “It’s a feeling that you can’t buy. We know that her time is limited and we don’t know how much longer she has, but it’s incredible when we are able to get out and fulfill her bucket list.”
But authorities involved in a yearlong investigation now allege Olivia’s mother had her treated for conditions she did not have before withdrawing medical care while she was in hospice.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s office announced Monday Turner had been charged with first-degree murder, fraud, child abuse and theft, among other charges.
Their probe allegedly showed Turner had a long history of presenting doctors with false diagnoses, all while documenting her daughter’s medical journey and benefiting from sought-after charitable donations, officials said.
Doctors at Children’s Hospital Colorado first became worried about possible child abuse after Turner allegedly said that her other daughter had been treated for cancer in Texas, a claim they said they determined was not true, the 13-count indictment against Turner first obtained by KUSA said.
Staffers reportedly said they found articles, blog posts and Facebook pages in which Turner, who had brought the child in to be treated for “bone pain,” described medical conditions that did not match the girl’s medical records.
By that time, Olivia had died, and staff members were suspicious about the care she had received and the circumstances of her death, authorities said.
Turner “may have been benefiting from this attention and motivated some of the medical treatment,” the indictment said. “There is also concern [Turner] has a financial and social motivation for her children’s medical conditions, both real and fictitious.”
Authorities were also concerned Turner had “lied about the children’s medical conditions and therefore may have caused harm to the children and/or caused them to have significant medical procedures,” the indictment said.
Turner had sought to have Olivia treated for constipation and developmental delays when she was 2 years old, later telling reporters her daughter had autism and neurogastrointestinal encephalopathy.
The rare disorder impacts a person’s muscles, gastrointestinal tract and overall organ functionality.
“I hope that she holds out and is able to check off every single thing on that bucket list,” Turner told InsideEdition.com in 2017.
Olivia was placed in hospice care in March of that year, where she was fed through a tube before Turner withdrew all medical care.
Several doctors at Children’s Hospital Colorado reportedly said Olivia was never found to have a terminal illness and were “shocked” to learn Turner withdrew her daughter’s medical care, while others said they didn’t agree that “intestinal failure” caused the little girl’s death, according to the indictment.
An autopsy conducted on Olivia’s exhumed body in November 2018 showed “the manner of death is best certified as undetermined,” the indictment said.
During an interview with investigators, Turner allegedly brought up Munchausen syndrome by proxy, more formally known as factitious disorder imposed on another. The psychological disorder sees a caretaker fabricate or induce illness or injury in a person under their care, such as a child.
“That has never been my case, like at all, whatsoever,” Turner said, according to the indictment. “You can talk to anyone.”
Turner allegedly raised $22,270 from 161 donors through a GoFundMe campaign she said was create to offset the cost of Olivia’s medical treatment, officials said.
“Above all, prayers are the most precious gift you can give to this precious girl who has touched so many lives with her will and determination to fight and never give up,” the page said.
Turner also received a $3,000 check from Professionals Miracles Foundation, a charity created by the Denver real estate community to help families with severely ill children, the New York Times reported.
She is also accused of falsifying documents to receive $538,991 in Medicaid assistance for her daughters’ medical bills between March 2014 and December 2018, all while her children had access to health insurance through their father.
Turner also allegedly owes $5,398 to the funeral home and cemetery that buried Olivia.
Last week, Turner was indicted on the 13 charges she faces. She is currently being held without bond at the Douglas County Detention Facility.
If Turner is found guilty of first-degree murder, the mandatory penalty in Colorado is life in prison without the possibility of parole.
She has also been charged with abusing another child, who is a minor, which is a misdemeanor.
Turner is due in court Nov. 1.