'Munchausen mother' loses custody of children

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by Associated Press

wfaa.com

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 4:49 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 16 at 11:19 AM

DALLAS -- The mother of three girls allegedly sent to the emergency room at least 150 times for illnesses they never had has been stripped of her parental rights.

A judge's decision Monday in Ellis County sends a 6-year-old to her father and her two half-sisters, ages 8 and 4, into state custody.

Testimony during a monthlong trial alleged that the mother, Susan Hyde, abused the girls by treating them for cystic fibrosis, cerebral palsy and seizures. The girls never had any of the conditions, The Dallas Morning News reported.

Doctors testified that Hyde's behavior correlated with both Munchausen syndrome and Munchausen syndrome by proxy. Both are psychological disorders in which people exaggerate or create false symptoms of illness; the second is characterized by a parent making her child appear sick and possibly harming the child.

Ellis County Judge Greg Wilhem on Monday approved the a jury's June 30 verdict that terminated Hyde's parental rights. Hyde faces no charges but the Tarrant and Dallas county district attorneys' offices have been asked to review her case.

The girls' maternal grandparents, Brian and Patricia Andersen of Ennis, said last week they plan to appeal in hopes of regaining custody.

The 39-year-old Ehlers, who is single, said he hopes to occasionally get all three girls together in Davenport, Iowa, where he lives.

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