Nobody Should Believe Me S02

Share this episode

SEASON 03 | EPISODE 03

In a Heartbeat

In our third episode, we look at a central piece of the story that was left unfinished at the time of Beata Kowalski’s death: the police investigation into her for medical child abuse.

Along with Detective Mike Weber and our anonymous Florida pediatrician friend, we unpack shocking new details from the police investigation and from Jack Kowalski’s interview the Detective Stephanie Graham. Was Jack really just being pressured to throw his wife under the bus? Or did he have suspicions of his own about her?

We also unpack some of the many discrepancies in Maya’s medical history and the troubling behaviors of her mother Beata, showing that that this pattern of deceptive behavior went way beyond the question of whether her daughter’s diagnosis of CRPS was correct or not.

As the Kowalski v Johns Hopkins All Children’s trial unfolds in real time, we examine the facts of the case as they stood when Beata died and show how the prevailing media narrative about this case is getting it all wrong.

Listen on: Apple | Spotify

Show Notes

Host Andrea Dunlop:

https://www.andreadunlop.net

For behind-the-scenes photos:
https://www.instagram.com/andreadunlop/ 

Support the show and get exclusive bonus content:
https://patreon.com/NobodyShouldBelieveMe

For information and resources:
https://www.munchausensupport.com

The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children’s MBP Practice Guidelines can be downloaded here.

More about Dr. Marc Feldman:
https://munchausen.com

Transcript

Andrea 

[00:00:00] Nobody Should Believe Me is a production of LARJ Media. That’s L A R J Media.  

Before we begin, a quick warning that in this show we discuss child abuse, and this content may be difficult for some listeners. If you or anyone you know is a victim or survivor of medical child abuse, please go to munchausensupport.com to connect with professionals who can help. 

Every investigation begins with a question, but this film starts off with an answer.  

Netflix 

So did they want Jack to turn on? I would assume that they did. That would have made their case easier. He said that he would choose his kids over… That’s what he’s supposed to say. If you say otherwise, it will be held against you.That is the only correct answer.  

Andrea 

The audio you just heard is a producer and a Kowalski [00:01:00] family attorney, Deborah Salisbury, talking in the Netflix documentary, Take Care of Maya.  

People believe their eyes. That’s something that actually is so central to this whole issue and to people that experience this. Is that we do believe the people that we love when they’re telling us something. If you questioned everything that everyone told you, you couldn’t make it through your day.  

I’m Andrea Dunlop and this is Nobody Should Believe.  

If you’d like to support the show, you can subscribe on Patreon. and Apple Podcasts, where you will get all episodes early and ad free, as well as tons of bonus content, including weekly recaps of the Kowalski trial, which is happening now, with me and our Florida pediatrician friend. 

If monetary support is not an option, rating and reviewing always helps, as does telling friends about the show on social media or wherever you talk to people. [00:02:00]  

In the last episode, we talked about the broader concept of false allegations and how the Maja Kowalski case fits into this. We talked to a couple of experts including Dr. Carol Jenny, Bea Yorker, and a Florida doctor to just give us a bit of an introduction into what is going on in this case. And we talked about… Dr. Kirkpatrick, who plays a really outsized role, not just in this story, but in the media coverage of it because of his participation in the Netflix documentary. 

Today we are going to get into a really important piece of this case that was unfinished at the time of Beata’s death, which is the police investigation, and we are going to unpack the documentation we have around that, which is the police report and a transcript of the complete interview with Detective Stephanie Graham from the Sarasota [00:03:00] County Sheriff’s Department and Jack Kowalski. 

So, reading through these documents in particular really changed my idea of Jack Kowalski’s role in this situation. You know, the documentary really cast him as a very sympathetic figure. And on the one hand, I think it’s always important to recognize, and I do, that this man has been through hell. This, this whole situation is so sad. 

It’s so heartbreaking. Who is to blame for it is a different question, but in terms of like, do I feel empathy for Jack Kowalski? I do.  

But what this police investigation and what this interview in particular, one of the things that Detective Graham is trying to get to the bottom of is what role the other parent is playing [00:04:00] in a situation where one parent, in this case, Beata Kowalski, is a suspected abuser. 

This interview happened relatively early on in the case. The transcript from the interview is over 170 pages, and yet only a very small clip was used in the documentary.  

Here’s the clip from the Netflix documentary, Take Care of Maya, with Detective Stephanie Graham and Jack Kowalski.  

Netflix 

This is a complicated case.And I think it could be very possible that someone could be looking at criminal charges. Which is why I’m asking you, are you protective or are you complicit?  

Protecting my children.  

Are your children truly your first priority?  

I swear on my life. On my children’s lives. I don’t care.  

I’ll put you and your wife in jail tomorrow. 

If I did something wrong, you’d put me in jail.  

Absolutely.  

Yes. I, uh, suck that.  

Let me ask you. If Maya was released tomorrow, would you be compliant Beata.[00:05:00]  

Here’s Detective Mike Weber, friend of the show and nationally recognized expert on medical child abuse cases. What were your thoughts as you were watching this part of the film?  

Det Mike Weber 

The immediate thing that jumped out to me was they have one clip of one police interview that was extremely short, um, and, and very out of context. 

Where was the rest of the police investigation? What did the rest of the police investigation say about this case? They chose the most confrontational. moment of a very long interview that was very cordial.  

Andrea 

As a detective, when you’re in this point in the investigation, you can’t force anyone to talk to you, um, unless they’re under arrest. And then they can also, we can always ask for their lawyer to be there.  

So Jack wasn’t required to talk to Detective Graham. And what you’re not shown in the documentary is that she makes that clear to him a few times and even mentions. that his lawyer probably won’t be very [00:06:00] happy that he’s talking to her without them. 

So you know, it really seemed to me though that they were framing this as a guy being put under so much pressure that if he doesn’t say that he’ll choose his child over his wife that they’re going to take the kid away and he’s going to get in trouble. Um, so they were trying to make her look like a bad cop for lack of a better phrase. 

Mike Weber 

It was very clear that he was doing this voluntarily. They chose intentionally the most confrontational moment, which has to happen in that interview, right? She’s judging on whether he’s going to be protective if she gets to the point of arresting Beata. And it’s just, it’s just so out of context and it’s, I view it as extremely dishonest. 

Andrea 

So undoubtedly, you know, this is a really stressful situation for him any way you slice it. But, you know, the truth is. Based on my personal experience with my sister, I know what it’s like to be in the position of having to grapple with the idea that someone you love might have been doing [00:07:00] this and you might have missed it for a time. 

And I think that this moment in an investigation is one of the most crucial points where a child’s future is really going to be determined because the decisions that the person we believe to be the non-offending parent makes are going to have a huge impact.  

And you know, Mike, you always say, it’s about half and half with dads, whether or not they’re willing to really accept that this abuse is happening and of course with the caveat in this case that we don’t know because this was early on in the investigation or not, or if they’re just going to retreat into a state of denial. 

So, Mike… Can you walk us through Detective Stephanie Graham’s strategy here as she’s interviewing Jack because part of what she’s trying to determine is, like, is this father completely unaware of what’s happening? Is he also a suspect? Has he been complicit in the enabling of possible abuse in a more active way? You know, or is he basically telling the same story as Beata?  

Mike Weber 

Sure. Um, and it was a very effective interview. Um, Honestly, she is [00:08:00] just seeking the truth, right? But what she is also doing is letting dad lead her through that, right? And then giving dad pieces of information that she has to get dad’s reaction to that, to that information and, and kind of gauge where he’s at on this. 

And she’s also doing this before she has all the financial records. So, uh, she may also be considering, is this a financial scheme? Are they, are they doing this for financial benefit with all of the fundraisers? Um, Is this also child exploitation, uh, depending on what Florida’s laws on it? She’s trying to determine a whole number of things in this interview, um, with, with Jack, and she’s also trying to get information about the actual child abuse case itself and whether this medical child abuse. 

Andrea 

Yeah, Detective Graham really seemed like she was asking the right questions in this interview. And we also know from this documentation that she did read the peer reviewed APSAC [00:09:00] guidelines on investigating this abuse. The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children. And the law enforcement section of those guidelines were actually written by you, Mike. 

Det Mike Weber 

Right. There were definitely many things during this conversation that jumped off the page at me as being… You know, similar to other cases we’ve seen and also just, you know, the demeanor of Jack and kind of looking at other spouses in these cases.  

So I wonder like what, what just in an overall sense, what stood out to you about what Jack said in this conversation? 

 

Det Mike Weber 

What was very interesting to me is especially for the medical abuse aspect of it is it’s very clear that the primary medical provider for Maya was Beata. Jack makes that very clear. Jack doesn’t know what medication she’s on. Jack doesn’t really know the treatments. He doesn’t know the amount of ketamine she’s getting each day. 

It’s very, very clear that Beata is the one administering her medical [00:10:00] care. Now, that’s important to Detective Graham because that is identifying suspect is in the medical child abuse case, right? It’s going to be the person who is actually medically caring for the child and presenting the false symptoms. 

Andrea 

And you know, we’ve talked to a number of dads on this show that for various reasons, just weren’t that aware of what was going on in the day to day because of work or other reasons. And this situation with the Kowalskis strikes me as a little bit different. From a lot of families, namely because Jack was retired and he was a stay at home dad while all this was going on. 

So here’s the tape of Jack Kowalski from the Netflix documentary Take Care of Maya.  

Netflix 

In early spring of 2015, life was good. Beata was working as an infusion nurse. Helping people with their treatments at home. I was a firefighter. And then eventually retired [00:11:00] and I was able to spend more time with the kids. 

We had a beautiful house. Beautiful neighborhood. Dream come true. Paradise. But then Maya started to get sick. So then Jack presumably would be a little more involved in the day to day lives of his kids. So it’s striking then that he seems to know so www. un. org However, we know Beata had a really strong personality, and we know there’s another reason. 

Just simply because of her medical background, right? So you have that here, but it also affords her more of an opportunity if this abuse was happening to commit this abuse. Yes. As we see in these cases quite often, the fathers leave the care of these children completely up to the mother. They don’t have… 

the criminal culpability of committing this crime. You could argue that they’re criminally negligent or reckless, but I think you’d have a hard time proving that. [00:12:00] Yeah. And I think we’ve seen so many other cases, right? Like, um, you know, if we think about Fabian Ybarra, who we talked to in season one and the Hope Ybarra case, you know. 

Right. This is a pretty normal dynamic that moms are the ones who are responsible for the medical care, you know, fairly or unfairly, that’s not out of the ordinary for like the mom to be the one that knows, you know, what’s going on medically with the kids that knows when their doctor’s appointments that has ever gone to a doctor appointment. 

I mean, that is very common. And, Fabian Ybarra’s case, this Nobody in Hope’s family just had any reason to suspect her until they did. So in addition to reading the transcript of the Detective Graham and Jack Kowalski interview, I’ve also read some of Jack’s later testimony. So this was years out from the situation and it was really striking to me that though Maya by many accounts is doing really well now, she’s not taking any prescription medications, she’s not receiving any ongoing treatment from specialists, she’s working out [00:13:00] regularly, um, just… 

what sounds like a much more normal life. You know, she has friends, she has a boyfriend, she’s 17, so she’s thinking about college possibilities. But in Jack’s testimony, he really seemed to me like he was trying to emphasize the fact that she’s still in pain, that she’s still sick. And the court order that came down at the end of this put some restrictions on what doctors Maya could see and that every medical decision still has to be run through the courts, even after Beata died, and that was what came up in his testimony. 

And that’s pretty interesting to me. That tells us that Though, they did, of course, let Maya go home with Jack after Beata’s death. They decided that was in the best interest of the child. It was not, as they state in the film, because of Dr. Chopra’s diagnosis that she had CRPS, and we will unpack that in a [00:14:00] future episode. 

But my take on that court order is that… There wasn’t no concern about Jack Kowalski possibly continuing with these treatments when Maya went home with him. And now look, how this case would have played out if this investigation had been completed, and if charges had indeed been brought against Beata Kowalski, and it had gone to trial, no one knows. 

This is an unbelievably complicated case. But it made me… Really sad that Jack Kowalski, when he was talking about his daughter, rather than emphasizing that she’s doing really well, she is… You know, now doing so much better health wise. Her mental health, I can’t imagine how that suffered because of this situation. 

But, you know, she’s 17 and you want to encourage a kid to believe they have a bright future ahead of them. And instead, you know, Jack’s talking about how well she goes and [00:15:00] cries herself to sleep because she’s in pain. But she doesn’t feel like she can tell me she’s in pain because she knows we can’t get treatment. 

And it’s clear from his testimony that what Jack is talking about when he says treatment is still that high dose ketamine treatment. And this whole thing just makes me sad, and I don’t know why Jack Kowalski is emphasizing Maya’s Continued pain. I don’t know if that’s because he genuinely believes that or if it’s because his lawsuit obviously hinges on the fact that she has a really serious chronic condition. 

Now, one of the things that we did discuss with our Florida pediatrician friend is that, in her understanding, pediatric CRPS actually has a pretty good prognosis overall. And here again is our Florida pediatrician friend. As a reminder, we are not using her name at this time because of her proximity to this case. 

The idea is [00:16:00] that children actually, overall, from the studies I read, do better than adults. So their actual overall prognosis is better. And then the actual incidence is significantly less than adults. That being said, um, because the studies aren’t done on kids, are the numbers accurate? You know, because every study kind of gives a different number. 

But that being said, I think. The children in general, I would say, have better outcomes is definitely something that I’ve found, which goes against a little bit of what, you know, comes up during the course of this case. So it could be that it was very serious at the time that this happened and that it’s gotten better or that she’s in a remission. 

It strikes me that there is a possibility that this situation continuing to play out for as long as it has, especially with the level of media attention that it’s getting, is continuing to put Maya In a sick role. And that’s really damaging even if she does have some underlying condition. [00:17:00] Now, medical child abuse can happen for a number of reasons. 

It doesn’t always involve deception. Sometimes parents harm their children because they’re deeply anxious or they’re having delusions. But as I got deeper into the documentation of Maya’s case, A few huge things jumped out at me as possible evidence of fabrication. Maya’s CRPS diagnosis, her nutrition, and her asthma diagnosis. 

So, I think with the CRPS diagnosis, because it is going to be impossible for us sitting here to say whether or not this child has CRPS, there was disagreement amongst doctors. It doesn’t matter in terms of abuse because you could have a legitimate condition and you could be treating it in such a way that is so extreme and out of, you know, like, out of line with what they need, that that is still abuse. 

And I think there is a strong argument within this documentation that subjecting a [00:18:00] child to a procedure with a 50 percent chance of death is extreme. And it does appear that Beata was pursuing this treatment pretty hard. So with the CRPS stuff, we’re not going to be able to get to the bottom of whether or not that was a… 

exaggeration, whether that was a fabrication or whether that was a case of, you know, maternal anxiety. The second thing is the issues around Maya’s nutrition, especially because these just come up so much in these cases. And at one point, Maya was on TPN nutrition. So TPN nutrition, total perinatal nutrition, is IV Nutrition. 

So, TPN is used when a child is just not able to consume nutrition any other way, so usually it’s, you know, they can’t eat food by mouth, they go to a nasogastric tube, they then graduate [00:19:00] to the gastric tube that goes, you know, surgically implanted in their stomach, and then move on to TPN, which is actual nutrition in their IV. 

So, In the original Johns Hopkins hospitalization where Beata was there, she was requesting that Maya get TPN nutrition. And she was saying that because of her pain, she couldn’t have the nasal gastric tube. So again, Maya has a documented history of eating issues and maybe her mother’s just really concerned that she’s going to waste away. 

So this is another example of mom pushing for what appears to be an unnecessary treatment. And the third thing that jumped out at me as possible evidence of fabrication is all of the stuff around this murky asthma diagnosis. There were multiple instances in the records where Beata described Maya as having life threatening asthma. 

This does come up a bit in the film. Here’s Beata describing some of Maya’s symptoms in the Netflix documentary. I just thought it was [00:20:00] her asthma, but then she had chest congestion, coughing up yellow green sputum sinus infection. And she couldn’t go outside. Every time she went outside, she started to cough. 

So Maya’s asthma is also allegedly the thing that brought on the CRPS. Now, there are a couple different stories from Beata in this documentation about how the onset of the CRPS happened. But the one that is presented in the film, and the one that comes up the most often, is that she had a severe asthma attack in July of 2015 and then started having CRPS symptoms. 

And… Dr. Kirkpatrick testified about that and his comment was that he was not aware that this was a way that CRPS could start and that is consistent with what we have heard from all of the other doctors who testified about CRPS. Beata also reported at some points that the onset of the CRPS [00:21:00] happened after a gymnastics injury in May of 2015. 

So, again, this is an example of things that, you know, are any of us going to give an exact right? You know, a count of things that happened. No, but these are different enough that it’s notable. And Jack describes in the film that he and Beata were taking Maya to a number of different doctors. Here’s that tape from the Netflix documentary Take Care of Maya. 

We went to doctor after doctor, one hospital to another, trying to get an answer. And as a nurse… Beata was very thorough, so she documented every doctor visit from the very beginning. But they just put their arms up in the air and said, there’s nothing we could do. We don’t know what it is. In fact, according to the records, this is not what happened.[00:22:00]  

The Kowalskis did see a number of doctors between the alleged onset in July of 2015 and the CRPS diagnosis that was eventually given by Dr. Kirkpatrick that fall. But the doctors they saw in between told the parents that Maya was suffering from something called conversion disorder. Again, here is our Florida pediatrician friend explaining what that is. 

There’s the concept of conversion disorder, which as we understand it is, children present with neurologic symptoms that they are not creating, but that are somehow being perceived as being present by their bodies or by their mind. So, kids can present with vision loss with no MRI findings, no spinal fluid findings, no lab findings, anything to suggest why that would be the case, but they. 

truly have vision loss. They cannot see out of the eye that they’re claiming to not see out of. And it’s not that they’re lying and saying they can’t. It is truly they can’t. And that, that concept of conversion disorder is often [00:23:00] hard, I think. for physicians to completely explain other than that you can usually tie it to some stressful event or something else going on in the child’s life that then precludes this onset of conversion disorder. 

The thing with conversion disorder is it’s there. So if they have vision loss, it is there until it’s not and they’ve gone through, you know, therapies and all the things to try to reverse the process. But it’s important to say that those kids, it’s not in their control, it is. an altered pathway or something that the brain is not fully understanding what it’s experiencing. 

So getting back to the police interview with Jack Kowalski, one of the things that I was interested about is how much of this documentation and how much of this medical information Detective Graham had when she was doing this interview and where she would have gotten it from. So needless to say, There was a lot of documentation in this case. 

One of the numbers I saw in a piece of [00:24:00] deposition was 35, 000 pages of medical records that were eventually collected from various institutions. And so that is what Dr. Sally Smith, who again, she is a child abuse pediatrician and she is not an employee of Johns Hopkins. She worked for Sunco Center, which is a community care based organization that works with DCF. 

She was tasked with reviewing for this case and we do not have her eventual 45 page report on all that documentation. But we do have her testimony and the initial report that she wrote supporting the shelter decision. And she mentions some things that were pretty telling in terms of her eventual diagnosis of medical child abuse, which we know she gave. 

There’s a lot here, but here are just a few of the things that stuck out to me from Sally Smith’s deposition and her initial report on [00:25:00] October 11th of 2016. So, again, she mentions that Beata was requesting that Maya be put in a medically induced coma, and Dr. Smith said that Beata portrayed These treatments that Maya was getting as quote last ditch efforts to treat a condition that was terminal with no hope for a cure. 

Something else that really stuck out to me in Dr. Sally Smith’s deposition and notes is this stuff about the port that Beata had had placed in Maya to get these ketamine infusions. So this was placed at Johns Hopkins. This is An elective procedure and it was ordered by Dr. Kirkpatrick and Dr. Smith notes that Beata, who as a reminder by her profession is an IV nurse, had been giving her daughter IV ketamine, immunoglobulin, thallium, and other narcotics through [00:26:00] the port. 

The prescriptions for these is a whole other central mystery of these records but… That was against medical advice to give those at home. Um, Dr. Smith also mentions these asthma claims and that Beata claims that Maya has severe Addison’s disease. This is a condition affecting the adrenal glands and there is no other record of her having this disease. 

So, as a sort of sum up… One of the quotes from Dr. Sally Smith’s initial report was that her mother presented extensive history by various physicians that is falsed based on review of the previous records. So these are just a few of the pieces of the puzzle from Dr. Sally Smith. And again, None of these things are mentioned in the film, and this film goes to great lengths to try and discredit her. 

But these things that Dr. Sally Smith is saying here are confirmed by many other pieces of deposition, affidavits, and records that are [00:27:00] available in the public record. So, I find myself struggling with this one to see what other possible explanation there is here. Is she lying? Are they all lying? Perhaps Maya is that one in a million medical mystery case and only Dr. 

Kirkpatrick could make the right diagnosis. But that doesn’t explain any of these other things. And there were a lot of other things that came up here that I haven’t even mentioned. There was the Addisons. There was a possible diagnosis of POTS at one point that Beata mentioned. And there was this incredibly disturbing story that was in the deposition from one of the Johns Hopkins nurses that was there in that October hospitalization where she reported that Beata gave Maya a Valium as a treat for being a good girl in the hospital. 

So again, All of these are just a piece of this investigation, and you know, a well executed investigation in these cases looks like a [00:28:00] thorough review from an expert like Dr. Sally Smith of all the medical documentation. So. You’re getting interviews with individual doctors, you’re getting affidavits from individual doctors, but someone has to look at the whole picture because these opinions sometimes differ, as they did in this case, which we will talk about. 

I talked to our Florida pediatrician friend about this and asked her what stood out from Dr. Sally Smith’s deposition and reports. I mean, I think having worked, again, in the state of Florida, um, and then also knowing, um, people that actually do work for these child protection teams, so physicians that work in that capacity, it needs to be understood that it’s their role to collect information. 

within reason. I mean, we can only get the information that’s given to us. Again, if you are never getting records from Mexico, you can’t determine what the records from Mexico said. So it is still a system. The system with the electronic medical record is actually getting better because places are linked. 

[00:29:00] So it’s, it’s basically a consent that is signed at the time of admission that gives you. access to other places that also have electronic medical records. But that being said, the role of the head of the child protection team, so Dr. Sally Smith and then different doctors in each county, is to review as much as they have in front of them and put it into a report. 

Otherwise, you have, you know, thousands, as in your sister’s case, how many thousands of pages of records? Someone has to be able to take that information and, and put it into a concise document for the courts then to kind of do what they need to do with it. So it is completely appropriate that she took all of that information and put it into a A report, and it doesn’t mean she was putting words in those physicians mouths. 

It does not mean she was the only physician that felt that way. That is her role. Her role is to take all of this information and bring it in one package. [00:30:00] So, the fact that this is one doctor, that they mention multiple times, it’s one doctor’s You know, having it out for these families or whatever, it, it just does not hold up. 

And another thing that is a huge piece of these investigations, and this is the reason for the no contact orders that were issued, and we will get into all of that in a bit more depth in a future episode, but the reason that you do no contact is so that you can have a clean separation test, which means you take the person who is possible abuser out of the picture and you see how the child. 

does. Now, in the film, they suggest, and they being Jack Kowalski, Dr. Kirkpatrick, Maya herself, suggest that she was deteriorating in the hospital. Here’s a clip of Jack Kowalski from the Netflix documentary. The visit was very brief and it was very difficult [00:31:00] because I seen her condition just going downhill. 

So her feet turned in more. She had more lesions. And just seeing her getting weaker and weaker, that was the most frustrating thing of all. But that’s not what the Johns Hopkins Hospital staff was observing. She was spending a lot of time in the child life area, which is the sort of big area they have in these Pediatric hospitals, where kids can do things other than be a sick child, they did say that she was being very resistant to some of the therapies, and they were concerned that some of the communication with her parents was actually causing that resistance, and that was one of the reasons that they were being so strict about the no contact order. 

But one of the things we know from Dr. Sally Smith’s deposition is that Maya did appear to be showing significant improvement after being removed. And [00:32:00] we talked to Detective Weber about the appropriate protocol in these cases. What do we know about these cases? How do we prove this? What is the gold standard? 

You separate the child and see what medical conditions the child actually has. Also, let’s look at how these treatments de escalated once she was removed from her mother’s care. She was on 25 different medications when she came into the hospital. She was down to 3 by 1026 of 16. So 13 days she’s been weaned off of that many medications. 

They were able to wean her off the ketamine and some of the other medications that she was on. And she had gained eight pounds in three weeks. So, I mean, she was healthier by these objective measures. Now, she was still reporting pain, but the staff there made observations about this reporting of pain that were very consistent with what doctors had observed before this hospitalization, [00:33:00] which was that… 

Maya’s reports of pain were not resulting in any physiological symptoms and also that she would report a 10 out of 10 pain almost every time she was asked despite if she was happily in the middle of doing something every time they would ask her about her pain she would say it is a 10 out of 10 and These are people who work in a pediatric hospital. 

Presumably, they have a good idea of what a child looks like when they’re in pain. And, you know, part of the language in the actual charge in Jack Kowalski’s case that they discuss a bit in testimony is this idea that Johns Hopkins kept Maya, quote, locked in a dark room. There was some back and forth about possible light sensitivity, um, but, you know, by the accounts of the staff, Maya was up and about quite a bit. 

She was [00:34:00] going around in her wheelchair. She was, again, spending, you know, up to five hours a day in the child life area. She was playing piano, um, you know, and, and really they, they talk about just her moods being really up and down, which makes sense for a child who’s in this situation. I do not doubt that Maya was very upset about being. 

separated from her parents. I don’t downplay that at all, but I think in terms of having physical and physiological symptoms, that’s just not what they were observing. And the other thing that comes up in many of the doctor’s records is about these alleged lesions, which is something CRPS. 

But all of the doctors who examined her, and of course we’re not talking about Dr. Kirkpatrick and Dr. Hanna at this time, right, they were her treating physicians before, but the doctors who examined her thought that these were self inflicted scratches. These added to the [00:35:00] concern that Maya was trying to present herself as sick. 

Because she possibly felt pressure to do that and there’s more to say about that. There were some really interesting comments that Maya herself made during a neuropsych eval and we will talk about that in a later episode. 

So, I want to switch gears from talking about all of the voluminous medical information that’s in these files to talk about another interesting piece of this investigation and where it was when Beata died. So one of the things that Detective Stephanie Graham had done, which is a really important part of these investigations, is subpoena records from nine different social media accounts that were associated with Maya. 

The detective obtained warrants for nine social media accounts, including two Facebook accounts, two Instagram account. account, a GoFundMe account, a [00:36:00] YouCaring account, a YouTube account, and a Twitter account. Now, a couple of these were Maya’s, but the detective notes in her narrative that most of these appeared to be, had been ran by Beata. 

So Maya was 10 at the time. You can’t really have your own social media at 10, I suppose you can, but your parents are obviously involved in that. And one of the things that we uncovered from Dr. Sally Smith’s Testimony is that one of these accounts, which is a blog, was written in Maya’s voice, but was clearly written by Beata. 

And we know that because she was updating this blog while Maya was in a coma in Mexico with pictures of Maya in a coma. And so can you explain why those social media accounts, like, why was the detective looking at all that? What makes that social, those social media accounts so important? They are so important because Beata is posting in her own words about What is [00:37:00] actually happening with Maya’s health care, right? 

So you can then take those and compare them to what’s actually going on in the hospital during visits and what she’s telling the doctors. And oftentimes those two things are very, very, very different. Um, I’ve had cases where they’re claiming things that simply. aren’t happening at all. They’re climbing diagnoses that never occur. 

We don’t know, I want to be very clear, we have no idea if that’s the case in this case because it never got to that point in, in the criminal investigation. Um, Beata’s death occurred before it ever got there. In the film, they talk a lot about what a sort of dedicated documentarian Beata was of Maya’s medical journey. 

And we see evidence of that in the film. Here’s a clip of Maya as she prepares to be put in a coma during their trip to Mexico. Again, from the Netflix documentary. Yes, you will wake up in a minute. Will I be [00:38:00] normal? Yes, and you’ll be very normal when you wake up. I feel weird. No, you’re not weird. I feel 

very weird. You’re doing great. 

Now, the way that this is presented and framed in the documentary is basically that Beata has the receipts, right? She can, she can prove what she’s saying because she has it all on tape. I think if you are looking at this through the lens of it being a possible situation of medical child abuse, it looks very different because one of the things That offenders do and that plays a huge part in both the investigations and just sort of the expression of this form of abuse if it is in fact factitious disorder imposed on another where the goal is to [00:39:00] get attention is Just so much social media activity. 

So many updates. So many pictures of their children in hospital settings. Pictures of their children intubated. Pictures of their children hooked up to a bunch of machines. Dr. Mark Feldman refers to this as medical porn. And… This is not to say that every parent that posts a picture of their child in the hospital is doing this. 

There are many ways that parents of sick children use social media that is helpful and benign, right? So if you have a sick kid and you are trying to keep everyone updated on that situation and you don’t want to make eight million phone calls or respond to everybody’s text messages, you know, that is a way of sharing that information. 

It’s a legitimate way of getting support. Lots of people find, especially if their child does have a rare disease, you know, being able to connect with other people [00:40:00] online is obviously a huge blessing. So it is possible that that’s what we are looking at with Beata’s social media activity, but the sheer amount of it is really notable. 

You know, I think one of the reasons that people have a really hard time with these cases, and that people have a strong emotional reaction to these stories, is that… If you are a parent who is legitimately in this situation where you have a chronically ill child, You may be doing some of these things like posting about your child a lot on social media and you might be Seeking out different alternative therapies when you don’t think something is working and you might have had Doctors who didn’t listen to you and didn’t give you good care and right now With this narrative that’s, that’s playing out in the media, those parents are being convinced that they are under attack and that they are at risk of [00:41:00] having their child kidnapped. 

It’s really important to me to separate out those behaviors and what those behaviors look like from what we’re seeing in this documentation. The false reports are pursuing treatments that have a really high risk of death. I mean, that’s not something that most parents would do. And so I, I want parents to understand that if you are a parent of a sick child, this narrative is doing you a huge disservice. 

You know, we heard from people after we aired that episode on my sister’s case that they stopped going to Mary Bridge because they read that article that made it sound like Mary Bridge was going to kidnap your sick child. And I was just in Florida for CrimeCon, and When I was talking to people about the subject of my podcast, I heard from a couple of parents that they had similar concerns about Johns Hopkins. 

This has real effects on those parents who have sick children, and also those people, their experiences are being exploited by offenders, right? I [00:42:00] think one of the most heartbreaking things is to think about some of these support groups and that kind of thing. Infiltrated by perpetrators and those people are having their trust breached. 

Those people who are in that incredibly vulnerable position of having a sick child and they’re looking to lean on other parents that have sick children and they have someone in there who’s a perpetrator. I mean, that’s a horrible betrayal. And so. I want to make sure that we’re sort of, you know, being really sensitive to those people’s experience because that’s a group that I think about a lot and I think that’s a group that is harmed by these perpetrators. 

So, that is where we were in the police investigation when Beata died. In the next episode, we are going to talk about the circumstances around Beata. Her suicide. So if that is a really sensitive issue for you, you can skip this episode. You will be able to pick up with us on the next one. [00:43:00] So just know, take care. 

Know that’s coming. And if you or anyone you know needs help in this area, you can call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988. Today is September 27th and as we are recording this we are about one week into the Kowalski trial which I have been watching live on Zoom and just as a reminder we are recapping that every week on Patreon and Apple. 

The suit has been narrowed to just Jack Kowalski versus Johns Hopkins. The other parties have been dropped from the suit. So there was testimony. This week from several folks on the plaintiff’s side, that’s Jack Kowalski’s side, um, so far, including Jack’s brother and Maya’s younger brother, Kyle. Dr. 

Chopra will be testifying tomorrow. Dr. Kirkpatrick unfortunately had to pull out due to a health issue, so we will not be hearing from him. Nobody Should Believe Me is a production of Large Media. Our senior producer is Tina Knoll and our editor is [00:44:00] Kareen Kiltow. 

Listen to Episodes
Sisters
SEASON 01 | EPSIODE 01

Sisters

Share this episodeSEASON 01 | EPISODE 01SistersWe meet accomplished novelist and loving mother Andrea Dunlop as she embarks on a journey to understand the series of events that tore her family apart. We learn that her older sister has been investigated twice...

Who is Hope?
SEASON 01 | EPSIODE 02

Who is Hope?

Share this episodeSEASON 01 | EPISODE 02Who is Hope?We delve deeper into the story of Hope Ybarra, a young mother whose family discovers she’s been faking her eight-year-long battle with terminal cancer and begins to suspect her own health isn’t all she’s...

What’s in the Water in Tarrant County?
SEASON 01 | EPSIODE 03

What’s in the Water in Tarrant County?

Share this episodeSEASON 01 | EPISODE 03What’s in the Water in Tarrant County Andrea speaks to Deanna Boyd, the crime reporter who broke the Hope Ybarra case and discovers that Hope's was one of many Munchausen By Proxy cases in Tarrant County that Deanna...

Nobody Would Believe Me
Season 01 | Episode 04

Nobody Would Believe Me

Share this episodeSEASON 01 | EPISODE 04Nobody Would Believe MeAs we learn from Detective Mike Weber, the father in a Munchausen by Proxy case can be the most important ally--or the biggest obstacle--in protecting child victims from abuse.  Andrea gets...

Nobody Would Believe Me (Part Two)
Season 01 | Episode 05

Nobody Would Believe Me (Part Two)

Share this episodeSEASON 01 | EPISODE 05Nobody Would Believe Me (Part 2)As we learn from Detective Mike Weber, the father in a Munchausen by Proxy case can be the most important ally--or the biggest obstacle--in protecting child victims from abuse. In part...

The Blast Zone
Season 01 | Episode 6

The Blast Zone

Share this episodeSEASON 01 | EPISODE 06The Blast ZoneAs Andrea contemplates what the future looks like for survivors of Munchausen by Proxy, she gets an unexpected message from two young women who’ve lived it. After appearing with Marc Feldman on a podcast,...

Can They Be Saved?
Season 01 | Episode 07

Can They Be Saved?

Share this episodeSEASON 01 | EPISODE 07Can They Be Saved?Andrea delves deep into her questions around the psychopathology of Munchausen by Proxy perpetrators. Floored by the similarities in the many cases she’s researched: she talks to two of the world's...

There’s Hope
Season 01 | Episode 08

There’s Hope

Share this episodeSEASON 01 | EPISODE 08There's HopeAndrea has made an intense connection with Hope Ybarra's family, and asked experts, doctors, and the detective so many of her burning questions about Munchausen by Proxy. But she's become increasingly...

Blunt Force Instrument
Season 02 | Episode 01

Blunt Force Instrument

Share this episodeSEASON 02 | EPISODE 01Blunt Force InstrumentMeet Andrea Dunlop, accomplished novelist and mother, as she embarks on a journey to understand the series of events that tore her family apart. In the first episode, we learn how Andrea first...

Blunt Force Instrument
Season 02 | Episode 02

What Do We Do About Brittany?

Share this episodeSEASON 02 | EPISODE 02What Do We Do About Brittany?Heather Harris was one of many friends who was concerned about Brittany’s desperate need for attention for her daughter’s medical issues, and her inconsistent reports about Alyssa’s eating...

Blunt Force Instrument
Season 02 | Episode 03

Where There’s Smoke

Share this episodeSEASON 02 | EPISODE 03Where There's SmokeDetective Mike Weber dives into the digital rabbit hole of Brittany’s online activity and makes a discovery so shocking it turns his investigation on its head and reveals the depths of depravity...

Blunt Force Instrument
Season 02 | Episode 04

All In

Share this episodeSEASON 02 | EPISODE 04All InIn this season of Nobody Should Believe Me, we've heard from Sheriff Bill and Laura Waybourn about their concern for Alyssa- who was a distant family member of theirs. Now, we take some time to get to know this...

Blunt Force Instrument
Season 02 | Episode 05

Tangled

Share this episodeSEASON 02 | EPISODE 05TangledWe hear more about Alyssa’s turbulent journey to become a Waybourn, as the family fights through a system that doesn’t know how to deal with medical child abuse. The Waybourns face the daunting task of...

Blunt Force Instrument
Season 02 | Episode 06

The Trial

Share this episodeSEASON 02 | EPISODE 06The TrialYears after being separated from her daughter Alyssa, the Brittany Phillips case finally heads to trial. Dawn Ferguson, the prosecutor on the case elucidates the challenges of convincing a jury that a mother...

Blunt Force Instrument
Season 02 | Episode 07

Megan

Share this episodeSEASON 02 | EPISODE 07MeganIn the wake of obtaining shocking public records about her sister’s case, host Andrea Dunlop decides to divulge the details of the second investigation into her sister, Megan Carter. Seated alongside Detective...

Blunt Force Instrument
Season 02 | Episode 08

Only the Beginning

Share this episodeSEASON 02 | EPISODE 08Only the BeginningIn the aftermath of Brittany Philips' conviction, Alyssa faces a daunting new reality: the path to recovery. The long-term physical and psychological effects of Munchausen by Proxy abuse cast a long...

Blunt Force Instrument
Season 02 | Episode 09

Pandora’s Box

Share this episodeSEASON 02 | EPISODE 09Pandora's boxIn this gripping episode, we delve into the heart-wrenching account of Jordyn Hope, another survivor of medical child abuse. Taking a brief departure from Alyssa's story, we shine a spotlight on a far more...

Blunt Force Instrument
Season 02 | Episode 10

Everything Everything Everything

Share this episodeSEASON 02 | EPISODE 10Everything Everything EverythingIn the finale of Season 2, we finally hear from the person at the center of our story: Alyssa Waybourn. Despite the immense challenges she has faced, Alyssa shines as a beacon of...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 01

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 01Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release) Warning: This content includes references to suicide and child abuse. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, help is available. Call or text...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 02

Shelter

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 02Shelter As the Maya Kowalski case heads to trial, we dig into the massive trove of documents about this case and begin to unpack what we know about what really happened during Maya Kowalski’s fateful stay at Johns...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 04

Retaliation

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 04RetaliationNote: This episode contains sensitive content related to child abuse and suicide. Listener discretion is advised. Beata Kowalski’s tragic death by suicide in January of 2016 is at the center of the $220...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 05

The Women

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 05The WomenIn the flattened version of the Maya Kowalski story that has dominated the headlines, Beata Kowalski is a mother who fell prey to age-old biases against women. This story attaches itself to the well-documented...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 06

The Believers Part 1

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 06The Believers Part 1In today’s episode, Andrea seeks an outside perspective on the controversial Maya Kowalski case. Laura Richards, host of Crime Analyst and cohost of the Real Crime Profile podcast, joins Andrea to...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 07

The Believers Part 2

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 07The Believers Part 2As the Kowalski v Johns Hopkins All Childrens trial barrels forward, new information comes to light each day about what really happened to Maya Kowalski during her time in the hospital. In part 2 of...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 08

Trial of the Century

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 08Trial of the CenturyWith a verdict in the case days away, host Andrea Dunlop unpacks some of what’s happened so far in the Kowalski v Johns Hopkins All Childrens trial with lawyer and trial consultant Jonathan Leach....

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 09

The Verdict

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 09The VerdictAndrea and special guest Bex (aka our Florida pediatrcian friend) process the shocking verdict in the Maya Kowalski trial. After 9 weeks of testimony, the jury awarded the Kowalski family nearly $300 million...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 10

The Verdict Part 2

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 10The Verdict Part 2Andrea checks in with lawyer and trial consultant Jonathan Leach hours after the Kowalski verdict comes down. They talk about the judge’s decision to disallow testimony from the defense on medical...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 11

Star Witness

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 11Star WitnessAs we continue to process the far-reaching implications of the shocking verdict in the Kowalski case, we take a closer look at Maya Kowalski’s testimony and what we know about her. She’s emerged as a...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 12

System Override

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 12System OverrideWith the jury's stunning $242 million verdict in favor of the Kowalski family, host Andrea Dunlop looks at why this case has struck such a nerve on both sides of the political spectrum. She examines why...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 13

What Now?

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 13What Now?Just when we thought the endless saga of Kowalski v Johns Hopkins All Childrens was over...it turns out it might only be beginning. In this episode, lead attorney for the Johns Hopkins All Childrens defense...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 14

Media Circus

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 14Media CircusThis week Andrea examines how the harrowing and complex story of the Maya Kowalski case turned into a pop culture moment, and spread dangerous misinformation in the process. We continue our conversation...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 15

The Trials of Dr. Sally Smith (Season Finale: Part 1)

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 15The Trials of Dr. Sally Smith (Season Finale: Part 1)In an exclusive interview with Dr. Sally Smith, host Andrea Dunlop travels to Florida to speak to the embattled child abuse pediatrician about her life and work and...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 16

Bad Press (Season Finale: Part 2)

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 16Bad Press (Season Finale: Part 2)In the second part of our exclusive interview with Dr. Sally Smith, we discuss how the media coverage of her reached a fever pitch and turned her life and career upside down. We explore...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 17

Dangerous Women (Season Finale: Part 3)

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 17Dangerous Women (Season Finale: Part 3)In the third and final installment of our exclusive interview with Dr. Sally Smith, she shares her side of what happened in the Maya Kowalski case, revealing how perilous Maya’s...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
SEASON 03 | EPISODE 18

What Jack Knew

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 18What Jack KnewAs we prepare to launch Season Four next month, we’re revisiting the subject of Season Three—the landmark Kowalski v. Johns Hopkins All Children’s verdict, in which a jury awarded Jack Kowalski more than...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 19

What Happened to Beata?

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 19What Happened to Beata?This week's episode delves into the intricate details surrounding Beata Kowalski's death, which was central to the Kowalski's lawsuit against Johns Hopkins All Children's, as well as the...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 20

Kowalski Case Update with Ethen Shapiro

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 20 Kowalski Case Update with Ethen Shapiro Join Andrea as she delves back into the ongoing legal battle of Kowalski v. Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital, with Ethen Shapiro, the lead defense attorney for Johns...

Subscribe
Find Nobody Should Believe Me on your favorite podcast app.