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Enthralling true crime tale
on 24 September 2013
I remember hearing about this case at the time, but I had a vague feeling that later it was found that the mother wasn't to blame. Not sure what gave me this idea, as reading this book I was totally convinced of her guilt even from the first few pages. The way that she reacted to her adopted daughter being moved to the ICU struck me as very strange - what truly caring parent would create a scene over a decision made by qualified medical personnel to give their child the best care available? Unless of course they feared that lack of access would mean that their child might mysteriously recover thus denying them of the attention they feel they deserve and the credit for being a supremely self-sacrificing mother.
With the benefit of hindsight it seems incredible how naive the staff at Kaiser were. A woman adopts a baby girl - with some existing health problems - who dies for no apparent reason. Incredibly she is allowed to adopt another baby 9 months later and this child soon develops similar symptoms to the first child who died - meanwhile the 'loving' mother is allowed involvement in every aspect of the child's care including mixing her formula! Really the scenario speaks for itself ...
I suspect, for what it's worth that the first child Tia really was ill when she arrived in the US and that Priscilla felt so gratified by the contact with hospital staff and the admiration she received for her coping skills that she started contaminating the child's formula with sodium bicarb in order to precipate more hospital visits. Clearly she was - and for all I know - still is - in huge denial no doubt telling herself that's Tia's death was caused by some illness and that the whole business over Mindy was a fuss over nothing.
To her credit, the author does give Priscilla and her husband Steve a voice and tries to show an alternative scenario in which they were the victims of injustice but I'm afraid I couldn't buy it - the adoptive mother who testified that Mindy was still ill was far from impartial and the 'contaminated formula' theory seemed something the defence would bring up to create 'reasonable doubt' in the jury's mind rather than something which would convince a sceptical reader.
Still for that all that it seems to me that she got off lightly and everyone seemed to pussyfoot around her. She was no doubt lucky that her's was one of the first cases of MBP, just a few years later and she would have been caught much earlier and no doubt received a more appropriate punishment!