Nobody Should Believe Me S02

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What 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 issues. In this episode we peel back the inner workings of Child Protective Services in the state of Texas, and uncover a deeply flawed system that despite many social workers’ best effort, leaves victims of medical child abuse in harm’s way.

After a shocking incident pushed Heather to report Brittany to CPS, she was dismayed when no one intervened. Little did she know her report was one of many made to the agency.

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Show Notes

Host Andrea Dunlop:

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

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Andrea: [00:00:00] Nobody should believe me is a production of large 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 munchhausen to connect with professionals who can help.

Heather Harris: If Alyssa was wanting attention and Brittany didn’t want to give it, then she would tell her she was spoiled and pick her up and put her in the other room. If she was acting out, crying, screaming, she would yell at her and call her a brat and tell her that she was spoiled. Things like that. That just. And to me, my kids, you know, whenever they were one, they just wanted to be held.

Heather Harris: She didn’t want to do that. She wanted her to go away so she could talk or didn’t want hit her, interrupt her, and whenever she would interrupt, then she would be really rough

Andrea: with her. Would she get physical with her also?

Heather Harris: That was it. She did at one point. Yes. And that’s whenever I finally [00:01:00] called cps. P s.

Andrea: 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. I’m Andrea Dunlap, and this is Nobody Should Believe me.

Andrea: This season we’re covering the case of Britney Phillips. If you haven’t listened to episode one yet, Please do that. Before diving into today’s episode. At the top of the episode, we heard from Heather Harris. She was originally an online friend of Britney’s who got close to her in real life, and she was telling us about how she reached her breaking point and finally called c P s.

Andrea: There’s this really interesting dichotomy in these cases where for most of them, like Hope YouBar, like a lot of the women we talked about in season one, there’s this really fascinating [00:02:00] duality of two other people. They look like really loving mothers, and that’s part of how they’re able to pull it off.

Andrea: But Britney didn’t look like a loving mother, and in fact, she looked more like what we can right away recognize as an abusive mother. Heather

Harris, you might remember from the previous episode, was a friend who’d met Britney online as part of a support group for new moms, and they ended up getting together a number of times in real life.

Andrea: One of these times was at a big get together at Heather’s house, and during that party, Heather ended up documenting. Some evidence.

Heather Harris: The most time that I spent with her was during that one really big meetup where we had a lot of the other mothers there, and there were a lot of children too. I mean, it was a lot of chaos.

Heather Harris: I mean, there was kids all over the place, and I think everybody spent a good five or six hours out at my house that day. We were there for quite a long time. Because we had snacks and lunch and you know, playtime and everything else. [00:03:00] And I think that was the day that was the turning point because she had stated multiple times that she couldn’t eat and I would catch her eating.

Andrea: Did you confront Britney when you saw that discrepancy?

Heather Harris: Well, the only time I confronted her that day, cuz she told me, well, if you can get her to eat, then get her to eat. And then whenever she would start to eat, And she’d go over and take it away and say she’s gonna choke and she’ll get sick from it and she’ll end up in the hospital.

Heather Harris: And because I don’t think that she thought she was gonna get to eat. The only time I didn’t see Alyssa eat was after she had been scolded for eating. So if she got onto enough, then she would leave stuff alone or. Asked to get it and get told no. But that day she had had a bruise underneath one of her eyes.

Heather Harris: And I asked Britney, I was like, what happened to her? And she told me she hit her.

Andrea: And what did Britney say about why she hit her? About what happened? She was being a brat and Alyssa was really little. Yeah, right. She was two, maybe under two. Two happened under two. Yeah. Oh. So what was it like for [00:04:00] you to make that call to cps?

Andrea: PS that’s obviously not a call that anybody wants to make.

Heather Harris: I didn’t have a problem making it definitely since she had, and she come out and confessed that she had hit her kid. So I didn’t have a problem

making it. It was the subsequent calls that I made from other phone calls that I would have with her and the non follow up from cps s after, cuz that first call that I made, I did leave all my information and Brittany found out that I’m the one that called cuz they

Heather Harris: told her.

Andrea: I want to point out here that c p s is not supposed to do this. They are not supposed to reveal who reported someone to that person, and the reason they’re not supposed to do that is well illustrated by what happened between Britney and Heather after this call. So

Heather Harris: it totally changed the dynamic that we had where I was like, I’m sorry, I had to, and she still called me though, but there wasn’t that openness anymore.

Heather Harris: And anytime she did get visited, cuz apparently I wasn’t the only one calling CPS and time, she did get a [00:05:00] visit. She would call me and blame me for it and I’d just kind of sit there and I’d be like, I’m not the one that called.

Andrea: Sorry. So she would sort of call and berate you after that? Yeah, for, but she would

Heather Harris: also still call with medical questions or medical problems.

Andrea: At this point, like why did you continue to have contact with her? Were you I didn’t kind of keep an eye on the situation cuz of

Heather Harris: Alyssa or I felt like I was the only person that might be able to do anything and that’s. I guess shortly, I don’t remember how long it took for me to get the call from Mike Weber.

Detective Mike: Heather explained to me the incident that led up to the slap mark. She invited Britney over for a play date and Britney showed up with Alyssa. Alyssa had a big bruise on the left side of her face. And Heather asked her what happened, and Brittany tells Heather, well, I just got frustrated and slapped her and at this time, Alyssa’s two.

Detective Mike: And Heather said, you know, I, there was a party, I had a camera. So while I was taking pictures of the party, I took some crime scene photographs [00:06:00] also of Alyssa’s face, and I reported the CPS p s the

next day. Thankfully, Heather still had those pictures. Again, I felt this was great. What we call extraneous evidence.

Detective Mike: Extraneous offense evidence. This is extremely important to me. Now we actually have physical abuse, something a jury can understand, so I definitely wanted to talk to her. So I gave her a call and she told me about the incident where Britney came to her house. She’d become friends with Britney on online group What to

Detective Mike: And that is a group for online mothers to communicate, and they were part of a group May of oh eight babies, and Heather proceeded to tell me how Britney would post nonstop about the health of Alyssa and that whenever someone’s child was sick, Alyssa was always sicker by Britney’s words. On that site,

Heather Harris: if I would post online that I had a child that had something happen, or if somebody else would post online [00:07:00] if their child, you know, ended up in the hospital or needed stitches or something, then Alyssa would have something that happened worse.

Heather Harris: She would be sick pretty soon after, and then she would take up. The feed on what to expect with her daughter’s illnesses. It sounds to me

Andrea: like you’re almost describing like a one-upsmanship. Yes.

Heather Harris: And that’s what it started to

Detective Mike: feel like. So anyway, Heather tells me all these posts that Britney’s making, so of course I immediately subpoenaed the What to records, and I get all of those records.

Detective Mike: But Heather also told me about other people on that site who’d also had concerns about Britney, specifically Lauren Mock. Who I talked with, of course, I, I call Lauren shortly after I talked to Heather. Lauren

Andrea: Mock was another member of this What to Expect When You’re Expecting Mom’s group that had migrated to Facebook and then migrated to real life friendships.

Andrea: As Mike got into his investigation, he got very focused on the G-tube. So this is. A tube that had been surgically implanted in [00:08:00] Alyssa to help with her supposed feeding issues and to help her gain weight. But there was growing evidence from really every single person in Alyssa’s life that she

did not need this feeding tube, and that the problem was that Britney was starving her.

Andrea: If you listen to season one, you will notice that these feeding tubes come up a lot in these stories. And I just wanna point out that as with everything else, that it becomes kind of a pattern. You know, last season we also talked about how many, many babies in these cases are preemies. There are these patterns in cases of medical child abuse.

Andrea: However, I. Always wanna reiterate that there are many children who have these legitimate issues and that we should never look upon a mother who has a child who was born premature, or a child who has a feeding tube with any extra amount of suspicion. It is not a causal relationship. At this point, Britney was being investigated [00:09:00] simultaneously by CPS and the police.

Andrea: So cps P’S role in a case like this is to determine whether or not a child is safe in their home. For Mike, he is tasked with determining whether or not an offender has actually broken a law. So this is why he became so focused on the feeding tube. This is something that he can put under injury to a child because this has caused a child.

Andrea: Pain unnecessarily.

Detective Mike: Again, I’m focusing at this point on the feeding tube, and at this point Lauren tells me that right before the feeding tube was placed, Lauren babysat Alyssa for Britney, and Brittany had left her what’s called a Gerber graduate, uh, like a meal I guess, for smaller kids. And Brit had told Lauren, uh, she probably won’t eat this.

Detective Mike: Well, Lauren fed her that night and she ate like 90% of it, which is, was. According to Lauren, very good for a child her age and size at that point in time and had no issues doing it. This becomes important later because I compared the medical records to this timeframe [00:10:00] and sure enough, right before the feeding tube was placed, which is what I’m focused on at this point, Britney gives a history to the medical professionals at the Dallas Children’s GI Clinic, uh, that the victim eats Gerber graduates.

Detective Mike: For lunch, so I knew that what Lauren Mock was telling me was true. Lauren Mock also had a very disturbing story to tell about a time when Britney called her and wanted Lauren Mock to go with Brittney to the hospital with Alyssa and Lauren Ma lives in Northern Fort Worth. Brittany Phillips lives in Southern Fort Worth.

Detective Mike: Cook’s Children’s is in Central Fort Worth. So Britney Phillips wanted Lauren Mock to go with her and wanted to come get Lauren Mock and take Alyssa to Cook’s Children’s because Alyssa had cut herself.

Andrea: About how long would that take her to drive to Lauren’s house?

Detective Mike: Uh, to Lauren’s house? About 30 minutes and then 30 minutes back up to Cook’s Children’s.

Andrea: And what about if Britney had driven straight to Cooks? About 15 minutes. She wanted to go a [00:11:00] significant distance out of her way to get her friend to bring her with her to the hospital?

Detective Mike: Correct. For what purpose? Other than attention, I don’t know. When she got to Lauren’s house, Lauren’s like, It was a little cut on my finger.

Detective Mike: She’s like, put a bandaid on it. She’s fine. Brittany insisted on going to the Children’s Hospital to Cook’s Children’s. They go to the emergency room and what really disturbed Lauren is while they’re waiting, the cuts stop bleeding. And Lauren observed Brittany. Grab Alyssa’s finger and start milking the finger in order to make the cut start bleeding again.

Detective Mike: And that was very disturbing to Lauren. And again, good evidence for me.

Andrea: She brought her in for this minor cut in this very clear, sort of deliberate way, trying to make it look more serious than it was. What was the doctor’s reaction when they came in? They put a bandaid on it. Like an actual, just like, yeah, there’s a bandaid.

Andrea: Like the one who Just an actual bandaid in the cabinet. Yeah. Yes, yes. What was Lauren’s. Take on on Brittany’s behavior. When you spoke to her about this,

Detective Mike: [00:12:00] it was disturbing, but again, she, she didn’t know what it was. Right. I mean, she knew this is really weird, but she had no idea what to call

Andrea: it. Sounds like a lot of people had.

Andrea: Sort of a concern that they couldn’t quite nail down. And then once she was being investigated and they’re getting these calls from you, they sort of have something to fit this all into.

Detective Mike: Right? And most people don’t know what this is. They don’t know what to call it. They’re unfamiliar with the abuse pattern and you know, just societally.

Detective Mike: It’s a pretty big step to accuse someone of abuse when you know what that abuse is. I mean, think about if you don’t really know what it is, it’s something, just some weird behavior like this. I mean, what do you call it? I mean, you kind of sound crazy, reporting it. Right,

Andrea: given the fact that every single person in Britney’s life seemed to think that something was wrong between her and Alyssa, it seems like it should have [00:13:00] been easier to protect her, but CPSs has its processes and they have to be followed.

Andrea: These investigations is. Especially in medical child abuse cases are really complicated and everything has to be meticulously documented because CPS plays such a big role. In this story, I wanted to get some insights on how this organization actually works. So I spoke to Susan Ryle, who is the supervisor on this case, and she explained how these investigations work in her state.

Susan Rial: In Texas, there’s a statewide intake main number one 800 number, and. There’s also an email address, so someone that has concerns about abuse or neglect of a child can either call the one 800 number or send an email with a template, and they fill out all the information. It’s on the DF p s website, so that goes to kind of a statewide intake, kind of a clearinghouse.

Susan Rial: They either take the call and enter the information or they [00:14:00] review the emails. They typically staff it with their supervisor? Yes, this is legit. They assign it allegations, neglectful, SU supervision, physical abuse, sexual abuse, abandonment, refusal to accept parental responsibility, physical neglect, and then they type it up and they send it out via email to whatever location around the state of Texas it needs to be assigned to in Tarran County.

Susan Rial: And some of the other larger counties, it goes to a central router, it’s a person, and that person assigns it where it needs to go. It instigates an investigation. It’s a, it goes to the supervisor. Supervisor assigns, it’s one of their investigators, and the clock starts ticking. Actually, a clock starts ticking when it comes in.

Susan Rial: They have so many hours, 24 hours if it’s a priority one. Which is generally child is in immediate danger kind of thing, a priority two, they have

72 hours. [00:15:00] So within that timeframe, they lay eyes on and assess the immediate safety of the victim or victims and commence the steps taken to do an investigation.

Susan Rial: Interview any other children in the home that are not victims and interview, uh, parents. Alleged perpetrators. Anyone else living in the home and collaterals professional or just friends? There’s staffing going on all the time with the supervisor if need be. It’s taken up a notch depending on the allegations in the situation, and at the end of typically 30 days is the length that can be extended.

Susan Rial: They have to rule on a disposition. Whether it’s ruled out and nothing further is gonna happen, unable to determine either they don’t have enough or there’s enough and they might wanna do some more work. Turn it over to the Family-Based Safety Services, which are the people that work with the families while the children are still in the home.

Susan Rial: Or reason [00:16:00] to believe, which means there’s a preponderance of the evidence that the abuse or neglect has occurred and then decide whether it’s the child’s in a safe enough place to close it. They want to open it to where CPSs is still involved in the home, but with the children still in the home.

Susan Rial: Sometimes they’ll place a child with a relative or friend, but not take legal custody of the child or if they need to do an actual court approved removal of the child if the child is not safe. In the home and there’s no appropriate outside of the home caregivers that are friends or relatives. And it sounds, sometimes it sounds a little nebulous, and because it doesn’t have to be beyond a reasonable doubt, it doesn’t have to be cut and dried.

Susan Rial: So sometimes it’s just say somebody made an allegation or a witness says, I saw this happen, and the child is old enough to say it didn’t happen, which kids do all the time. It didn’t happen. No one touched me. No one hit me. So the child is not making an outcry, which we depend on a lot, [00:17:00] but the child’s not making an outcry.

Susan Rial: But we’ve got a kind of a credible witness. Or maybe there was some physical findings at some point in the past, and so we kind of think maybe something happened and we’re not willing to rule it out. And close it away where it could be expunged forever from the system. So we’re gonna make it unable to determine, but regardless of what we disposition, it really needs to be documented really well.

Susan Rial: We need to explain our reasons.

Andrea: I think it’s really important to understand as we talk about c p s, that. You know, this is an organization that looms really large in the public imagination and sort of in the fears of parents. But in reality, these are mostly really young, mostly female overworked, under-resourced workers, and there’s a very high burnout rate.

Andrea: And medical child abuse cases are extremely complicated, and they do not receive any specific [00:18:00] training on them.

Andrea: I wanna go back to Heather Harris. So even after Brit knew that Heather had called c p s on her, she still called her every time she was having a crisis. It sounds like she maybe had an interpretation of your relationship that. You guys were closer.

Heather Harris: I’m someone where if you call, I’m gonna answer the phone.

Heather Harris: I think I’m the one that answered the phone. And cuz I know that there were a couple other people in the group. That they didn’t get a good vibe from her, so they just stopped. They were done, and I was like, I’m gonna try to help where I can. So I think I’m the one that just kept answering the phone. We were not close.

Heather Harris: If Alyssa ended up in the hospital, she would call and the phone calls weren’t necessarily about Alyssa. They were about her, how she had to deal with it and she didn’t want to have to do this, and [00:19:00] how it was impacting her and how she didn’t have support. There wasn’t a lot of talk about her daughter.

Heather Harris: It’s, oh, my daughter’s in the hospital and now it’s me, me, me. Type of aspect of it, which seemed a little bit alarming. I know there was one time when Alyssa was in the hospital and Brittany had called me. She was there for multiple days and every time that they tried to discharge her, and at this point I didn’t know what to believe, but she said every time they tried to discharge her, her blood sugar would drop.

Andrea: Britney at this time was living with her mother, Kathleen, who was an older woman who was in very bad health,

Heather Harris: and I remembered that her mother was diabetic. So I wondered if she had access to insulin. She had told me she was a cna, that she

had some medical background. So I started and then what’s the cna? Uh, certified nurse assistant.

Heather Harris: So it kind of made me wonder if she had access to stuff. So I ended up calling the hospital at one point and letting them know, and that’s how I found out that she had had multiple [00:20:00] hospital stays. At multiple hospitals in the area. She had seen multiple doctors all over the metroplex, like it really got weird at that point.

Heather Harris: My mother ended up hospitalized at one point and her mother died not too long after, and she called me. While she was giving CPR on her mother while the ambulance was there and that set off because I didn’t really know her. It was really odd that all of the stuff that was happening, she was calling me for, and that’s when my husband started to point out like, I think you’re giving her the attention she wants.

Andrea: Heather didn’t even really consider Britney a friend at this point, so she was somewhat shocked to get a call from her. In the middle of what appeared to be a major crisis.

Heather Harris: It was in the evening and it was late cuz I was in bed with my husband and she called frantic and she said that she, her mother was dying, she was given C P R, that the ambulance was on the way and she needed help.

Heather Harris: And the only thing I could think of is she’s gonna need help with her daughter. So [00:21:00] I offered to go pick her up and it, it was pretty late cuz my husband’s like, please don’t leave. It’s too late. And I was like, if she needs help, Alyssa could come stay here. And she refused. She wanted to keep Alyssa with her the whole time and you could hear her in the background screaming and she went to the hospital with her and it was definitely odd.

Heather Harris: And I mean, to me, not natural, cuz if something was happening to my mother, I wouldn’t be picking up the phone to call somebody I barely knew.

Andrea: What is your interpretation of why Brittany called you?

Heather Harris: She got the attention that she needed at that point. Okay. Because I stayed on the phone with her for probably well over an hour or two, and I just pretty much just let her talk at that point.

Heather Harris: That’s when she told me that her brothers didn’t like her, and she was afraid that they were gonna blame her for her mother’s death.

Andrea: There was that, and during this conversation, Brittany says, If she dies, my brothers are gonna blame me. Yes. You hate to judge anybody in what they say in a moment of crisis, but I, that’s, that’s striking.

Andrea: I wanna highlight this moment where [00:22:00] Brittany mentions that she’s worried her brothers are going to think she was responsible for her mother’s death. I wanna be sure to say that we do not have any hard evidence that Britney was involved in her mother’s death, however, numerous. People reported to Detective Mike that they found this death and its timing extremely suspicious.

Andrea: Meanwhile, the c p s file on Britney was ballooning. Susan Ryle catches us up on where this investigation stood.

Susan Rial: A year previously she’d had a case. I don’t. I have no idea where it was worked or even in what city or county or anything. But the case came in with humongous concerns. Concerns from multiple medical staff, multiple hospital staff.

Susan Rial: When it came to you. When it came to when it was called in to cps. P. Obvious concerns, medical staff. Physicians, hospital staff, they knew what was going on.

Andrea: This was, I’m assuming, during that hospitalization? Yes. Yeah.

Susan Rial: She was [00:23:00] hospitalized at Cooks and I dunno how long she’d been there.

Andrea: This was the August, 2011 hospitalization where Alyssa ended up being removed from Britney’s custody.

Susan Rial: They didn’t have all her medical records together, but they already knew. She’d been seeing all these doctors about all these concerns. Her stories were inconsistent. What she said did not always match either what medical records showed or what was actually witnessed by staff.

Andrea: Can you think of any examples of that?

Susan Rial: Well, the eating mostly, and that’s something that was talked about, everyone that ever met the woman, Brittany, would tell people she can’t eat or she’s allergic to chocolate, soy, and milk and she can’t eat this. And if she. If Alyssa Eats, she’ll get sick, she’ll vomit. She can’t swallow her. Um, Brittany talked all the time about her swallow problems and she doesn’t eat.

Susan Rial: And then people would, people, friends, hospital employees would. [00:24:00] Witness her withholding food from Alyssa, and then when questioned, she said, oh, that’ll make her sick, or She doesn’t feel good, or she’s allergic to that. The, I mean, the main concerns was they knew that she was withholding food. They knew sh Brittany wasn’t following instructions.

Susan Rial: Brittany was not cooperative. She was argumentative, not compliant all the time, same as she was with all medical stuff she worked with, but Alyssa improved and then again regressed when she was sent home. And this was just had been going on too long and was too obvious. And Alyssa

Andrea: at this time is three and she’s.

Susan Rial: Very small for her age. She’s incredibly small. Brittany says she can’t walk and she has braces for her legs. The hospital had moved her into a room with a camera, and one of the first things she said was, is this the room with a camera? Which kind of raised red flags. I mean, why would you even say anything about that once she was placed in the room?

Susan Rial: With the camera, blood works better and sometimes [00:25:00] they would observe her talking to Alyssa, but of course there’s no audio, so they didn’t know what she was saying. So that was their, that was their concern. Medical staff was ready to write affidavits so that we could take it to court.

Andrea: Do you sort of walk us through this process before for there to be an immediate removal?

Andrea: Mm-hmm. There has to be. A real fear Yes. Of like imminent danger to that child. Yes. Otherwise you have to do the whole month long investigation, right? Yes. Yes. So by

Susan Rial: this time we had established we being the DA’s office. Detective Webber, the higher ups, mainly the higher ups in cps. PS had established kind of a protocol, so to speak, and one part of that protocol was, sorry, a protocol specifically for medical mun.

Susan Rial: Yes. Medical abuse MUNSEN cases. And one of the things that we were able to discuss was, I’d mentioned earlier that a priority one case, we have 24 hours to see the child and begin the investigation. A priority two [00:26:00] case. We have 72 hours to see the child. It was determined in our multidisciplinary team and the higher ups, my boss, my program director, her boss, that we would look at these things.

Susan Rial: We could get approval from our higher up. To not see within the 24 or 72 hours if it would’ve damaged the case. If we go to these mothers and say, bam, here’s our case, they could take the child in

Andrea: run. As we’ve discussed numerous times on this show. It’s never one thing in these cases, it’s really a pattern of not only illnesses and issues in a child, but of deception around those illnesses that someone like Detective Mike is looking for.

Andrea: So we talked to Mike Weber about how complicated it is to build one of these cases. Brittany is pushing the story that Alyssa is sick. She’s doing it by saying it on Facebook. She’s doing it by giving Alyssa a picture of herself in leg braces she didn’t need. She’s doing it by telling [00:27:00] friends and family on every possible occasion, the litany of things that are wrong with Alyssa’s Health.

Andrea: So it. It’s important for people to understand. I think that it is putting all those pieces together. It’s not a smoking gun, if you will. It’s not you’re gonna find one thing,

Detective Mike: it’s a pattern. Correct. These are always circumstantial cases, and the way you build a circumstantial case is by getting every piece of the puzzle.

Detective Mike: This is a 20,000 piece puzzle.

Andrea: There’s so many aspects to it that you have to go through. Yeah, and I think actually kind of what you’re speaking to, it’s the legwork, right? Yeah. It’s just the, it’s the time. Unbelievable amount of work to go through thousands of pages of medical records, thousands of pages of internet post.

Andrea: If you think about what someone who’s online a lot, what their internet history would look like. Yeah.

Detective Mike: And it’s a lot to look through these offenders. Rely on that. They rely on the medical profession being too busy. They rely on CPS being too busy. They rely on law enforcement being too busy to dedicate the work to do this.

Detective Mike: I mean, they [00:28:00] really do. And 95% of the time they’re right

Andrea: at this point, even though it seemed like. Everyone in Britney’s life, including medical professionals, felt certain abuse was happening, that Britney was starving her child. This was by no means a slam dunk on Mike’s part. Things were about to take a huge turn in my

Detective Mike: 37, almost 38 years as a police officer.

Detective Mike: I’ve never come across this. I doubt that very many police officers ever have. Very many detectives ever have, regardless of their experience level, even for even for a cases seasoned child abuse Detective,

Andrea: that’s next time on. Nobody should believe me.

Andrea: If you would like to support the show, you can join us over on Patreon or subscribe on Apple Plus, and you will get all episodes early and add free as well as lots of exclusive bonus content if monetary support is not an option. Rating and reviewing the show is a tremendous help as well as sharing the show with friends on social [00:29:00] media and elsewhere.

Andrea: Nobody should believe me is produced by large media. Our music is by Johnny Nicholson and Joel Schock. Special thanks to our lead producer, Tina Noel and our editor Travis Clark.

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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Season 02 | Episode 05


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...

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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...

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Season 02 | Episode 07


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...

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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...

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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...

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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


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 03

In a Heartbeat

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 03In a HeartbeatIn 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...

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


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 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)

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...

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