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SEASON 01 | EPISODE 02

Who 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 lying about. We talk more to Hope’s family and her ex-husband Fabian Ybarra about their efforts to unravel Hope’s many sinister deceptions. 

We meet Detective Mike Weber, who was responsible for investigating Hope Ybarra, an early foray into what would become the main focus of his career: Munchausen by Proxy. 

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 Mike Weber:
https://mikeweberconsulting.com

Transcript

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’s support.com to connect with professionals who can help.

Andrea: 33 year old Hope Jabra wants to find a peaceful place to die. Hope’s battle with brain, lung and bone cancer leaves her frail and weak. She has three children. Her youngest is herself fighting a terminal case of cystic fibrosis.

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. How could a mother purposely hurt her own child? Hope Ibarra subjected her baby to [00:01:00] unnecessary surgeries, even poisoning her.

Andrea: I’m Andrea Dunlop and this is, nobody Should Believe me. As I mentioned in the previous episode, there is still a lot about my sister’s story that I don’t know, and many things that I will probably never know. It really messes with your sense of reality in a way where you are then going back through entire decades of your life trying to piece it together with what you now know to be true and trying to reconcile that with your experiences as you remember them.

Andrea: If you are just joining us, please go back and listen to episode one. In that episode, we covered a lot about hope’s early life that led her to this point, and also what this has to do with my life and my journey. I spoke to former investigative journalist [00:02:00] Deanna Boyd about the moment when hope your Barr’s behavior really escalated.

Deanna Boyd: Hope basically had told family that she had been battling cancer off and on three different times. Started with bone cancer, later moved to her lungs and her brains, uh, caused her to lose her hearing. She had to have a cochlear implant. Um, and then ultimately the third cancer, when it had returned to her brain, had basically said it was inoperable.

Deanna Boyd: And that it was going to be terminal and this was it. And she, she shared that with family. She shared that with friends, she shared it with the world. She had all these different blogs where she talked about what it was like to be dying and all these experience. She was trying to have these bucket list items.

Deanna Boyd: She was prob trying to do. Prior to that time, and you just would read these and think, oh, what a brave woman. What a great mom. And she’s just living life to the fullest while she can. And she’s so brave and loving. [00:03:00] She’s a very strong woman and she wants truly to, uh, to live. But unfortunately, the cancer seems to be stronger than she is at this point.

Newscast: It Was a story that touched the hearts of North Texan, a woman on her deathbed. She and her family facing eviction Texans poured out their sympathy and opened their wallets to help.

Andrea: Hope had convinced her family and her entire community that she was facing cancer. Her sister Robin Pucher remembers how brave Hope always seemed throughout this process.

Robin: Everybody who met her was astounded at what she had been through and how she maintained her faith in her composure and her ability. To carry on with life with a, um, a zest for it. You know, she was just really prepared for whatever life threw at her. She never appeared to be overwhelmed by it. She would talk about it freely, you know, everything that happened to her.

Robin: It was just another phase [00:04:00] for her. Like, this is just something I’m going through. This is just life. I’m gonna keep chucking through it. And she always seemed to come out ahead. She lost her hair, but it was okay. Look at these great wigs I had and look at these hats and, oh, I’m sick today, but that’s okay.

Robin: You know, we’ll go to the zoo tomorrow. I mean, she’s still so outgoing. All of these things that we went through. My sister had cancer multiple times. It was during this supposed bout with cancer that hope told her family she’d become pregnant with twin girls. She also told her family that she lost that pregnancy due to radiation treatments.

Robin: She lost babies, she lost her hearing. All of these things seem looking back traumatic, but going through all of those motions, they did not feel traumatic. They felt like life. So what did it feel like for you when Hope told you that she was diagnosed with cancer? [00:05:00] I was still in high school, so I didn’t have much experience with that.

Robin: And she was never afraid. So I was never afraid, you know, as And at that point, did you believe her? Yeah, our whole family did. There was no reason not to believe her. There wasn’t anything that said. Well, how’d she get cancer? Why’d she get cancer? We never questioned it because there was no reason to. Hope had never even, you know, at this point, stolen an extra piece of pizza and blamed it on the dog.

Robin: Like she was so trustworthy and so dependable. You know, in her everyday life. She worked, she took care of her kids. You could rely on her. Why would we not rely on her to tell us the truth about that? She shaved her eyebrows? Looking back at a picture, she still had eyelashes. How can somebody who lost all of her hair still have eyelashes?

Robin: But you don’t think like that back then.

Andrea: Hope’s baby brother Nick Butcher shared with me what this time was like for him the first time that she had cancer. It [00:06:00] was shocking .

Nick Butcher: There’s always been something small, but this is a big deal. Like this is life altering and how do we work through it, right? As a family.

Nick Butcher: Cuz now she’s got all of these things that she’s dealing with. She’s got kids, she’s got Fabian who works a lot. So how do we help step in and and help cover for that? And that’s the one thing I really remember about it is like, okay, hope’s gonna be fine. I never doubted that. What do we do to help make it easier on her, whoever she needs help with, pick ’em up from school, take ’em to the house, whatever while she’s take doing treatments or in the hospital and then Fabian’s coaching and really busy.

Nick Butcher: Um, and just trying to take care of the family. When in hopes absence, it’s like, okay, we’ll let’s step in and help.

Andrea: Hopes community really rallied around her while she was on this supposed cancer journey. Here again is investigative journalist Deanna Boyd.

Deanna Boyd: She had friends who started fundraising, you know, accounts for her.

Deanna Boyd: The family was given a Make-a-Wish trip. They were all able to go to [00:07:00] Disneyland. Um, apparently she had a former employer who like gave the family a. Over $10,000. A great sum of money to help out, um, people assuming that she had great medical expenses or just not the money necessarily to take those fun lasting, you know, those vacations that create lasting memories for your children and, and feeling like she’s not gonna have much time with them.

Deanna Boyd: What can we do to help? There were, um, Remission parties. She went skydiving saying that was also on her bucket list and something that she always wanted to do. So she was constantly being given gifts and money. Yeah, she definitely got a lot of financial support, emotional support, um, from friends, from family, from strangers.

Nick Butcher: We threw some of the most amazing, like, hey, she’s better parties that I’ve, that some of the most fun times I’ve ever had. Um, because hopes here she’s gonna be with us. The family’s [00:08:00] here. Everyone’s getting together, all the friends, people that we, you know, have been kind of experiencing some of this with us, uh, through specifically obviously the first two times that it had come around.

Nick Butcher: Uh, we had a big party at my parents’ house, which was my dad’s dream house. I will never forget. She jumped out of an airplane and landed in the backyard, soaring in, and, and it was this amazing thing, right? She’s like, I’m better. I’m gonna jump out of an airplane. It’s like, that’s not what people who have had cancer do, but here she is jumping right out into the yard and then we threw this big party and it was hope that we used to, her hair was a little bit shorter, but I mean, she was just what we had always known.

Nick Butcher: Right? She’s hope, she’s happy, she’s spunky, she’s having fun, she’s being goofy. She’s the center of the attention. She’s center of the party, which is expected, right? Because that was the objective was to celebrate her being around. It was just a big. Deal because everyone was with the story. Everyone was following.

Nick Butcher: Um, hope had a blog that people could go read online and follow the story. It’s like, what doesn’t matter anymore. The whole story doesn’t matter because here we are now, we’re gonna move forward. The whole family is moving forward, life is going on, and it’s not something that we have to revisit until we did.[00:09:00]

Nick Butcher: Third time was the hard one. She’s going through this again. Um, and I remember she brought us all to her house. The kids were there. Um, and she brings us all into a room. I remember, I think it was harder for her to tell us this time because this is the time where through telling us, she also was telling us, I’m not gonna fight it this time.

Nick Butcher: It ch totally changed the whole perspective for me. It’s like, why not? Like why are you being so selfish? You’ve got kids, you’ve got a family. Like, why are you choosing not to do this? And she’s like, well, it’s just, it’s too much. It’s hard. It’s a lot of burden on the family. It’s a lot of burden on you guys.

Nick Butcher: It’s not going away. Keeps coming back. So what do we do? And she’s like, I’m just, I’m done fighting it. That’s when it was. It was real. Like everything finally is like sucks all the life out of it. And it’s like this is no longer the same feeling. It’s not the same life. It’s not, we’re not gonna have her around anymore.

Andrea: Her father, Paul Butcher

Paul Butcher: Christmas of 2008, which was her last Christmas. So we had Rob and, and her kids, uh, we had the whole family for hopes last Christmas. [00:10:00] And it wasn’t until that day that I accepted the fact that she was dying. Eight and a half years of this. I never accepted this. I never, she’s not dying.

Paul Butcher: She’s not, she’s not gonna die. That Christmas day, I remember, you know, going out behind the barn and hollering and screaming at God.

Andrea: And how about Fabian and Hope needing to talk to their three children about this.

Deanna Boyd: She had written letters to each of her children kind of goodbye letters, um, including to the youngest, um, talking about how she wished she could carry the burden that the little girl had to carry for her.

Deanna Boyd: And you know how proud she is of her and that when the little girl goes to heaven, mama will be waiting there and she’ll reserve a garden of butterflies for you. She met when you come and join me soon. So she had convinced everyone that not only is she [00:11:00] dying, but her daughter is dying too, and it was just a matter of time.

Andrea: What Deanna is referring to here is that Hope had convinced everyone that her daughter had a particularly aggressive form of cystic fibrosis. Again, here’s Nick. When we figured out, I believe she was three, and we had been going through pretty consistently a battle with cystic fibrosis, which is a buildup of fluid in the lungs, makes it really hard for kids to breathe.

Nick Butcher: Typically, from my understanding, which was all from research now 15 years ago. What I was told then is they don’t generally live past 10, 12, 15 years old. Um, if you can make it to 20, it’s, it’s incredible. When you’re as young as she was, is it involves a lot of time in the hospital and. Oxygen assistance with eating through the first around three years of her youngest daughter’s life.

Nick Butcher: We spent roughly 50% of it in the hospital. Um, we celebrated two Christmases in the hospital, and I [00:12:00] remember. It was a joy when she got to come home, but you just felt more comfortable, like things were gonna be better when, um, she was in the hospital. And so we just kind of got used to it. Uh, the youngest daughter had, uh, port put in, so there’s physical and obviously mental scars that come from that.

Nick Butcher: It was a big part of the beginning of her life.

Andrea: In addition to the constant treatment that hope’s youngest daughter was receiving for her alleged cystic fibrosis, she also suffered several life-threatening episodes of anemia.

Deanna Boyd: You know, the investigator would later talk to the doctor who said her levels were just up one week down the next week, and it didn’t make sense because she wasn’t bleeding internally.

Deanna Boyd: And that would be the only thing that would cause that, my understanding is CF patients have problems with iron deficiencies, and so I can only imagine that she knew that. And then when she saw this opportunity, Ooh, I can give her now. Issues with anemia that she took it. [00:13:00] But the extreme, the doctors were saying that severe of anemia would not be seen even in the most severe cystic fibrosis cases.

Deanna Boyd: The only way that she could have lost that blood is if somebody was intentionally taking it out. During this period of her life, hope had been working as the lead chemist in several high profile positions, including one at a food manufacturer and one at a pharmaceutical company. I ended up talking to her former employer at the lab that she worked at.

Deanna Boyd: I was like, when did you get suspicious that something was not right? And he told me that, you know, um, some of the things that she discussed just didn’t seem up to the level of understanding of chemistry or. Science as somebody at her level should have had. And just to clarify, she had told her employer that she had a PhD.

Andrea: Is that right? Yes, correct. [00:14:00]

Deanna Boyd: He mentioned that at some point she’d gotten into a conversation, I think with his girlfriend and she, the girlfriend was asking, well, what was your dissertation on? And he just saw this evasiveness like clearly she did not wanna discuss this topic. And so he just started getting suspicious there.

Deanna Boyd: Um, and at that point had asked someone to pull her resume. And when they went to look at the file, there were actually two different resumes in there with some conflicting dates on when she supposedly got her PhD. Adding to that was at some point there was a supervisor at the lab who had come back a day early from vacation.

Deanna Boyd: And she walked into the lab and she noticed that there were some Petri dishes of pathogens, and they were from a lab that this company no longer received pathogens from. So it stood out to her and when she came back the next day, they were gone. And so they went back and they had surveillance videos and they looked at these surveillance [00:15:00] videos and they see hope come in with a big bag and apparently take.

Deanna Boyd: These Petri dishes of pathogens. On top of that, the supervisor who pointed out, who was the one who saw these pathogens and kind of raised the, the red flag, she ended up getting very sick as well. Did an, as another employee. One of the employees that got sick had just drank some water from a bottle. Um, I believe it was a supervisor who had talked on the phone and ended up getting some crazy rash on her face.

Deanna Boyd: So they tested both the water and the phone, and there was basically the same pathogens as had been in this incubator. So they were suspicious that Hope had purposely poisoned or exposed these employees to these pathogens. And while he couldn’t prove that she had done that, he was able to prove that she had never gotten.

Deanna Boyd: Her doctorate [00:16:00] in chemistry, that that was a lie. She had applied for the program, but she had not been accepted, and so she was ultimately fired from that. The depth of her lies just went, went into every facet of her life.

Andrea: This story struck me because even though a hope’s children obviously got the worst of her abuse, no one in hope’s orbit was really safe.

Andrea: Things started unraveling pretty dramatically for hope when the butchers discovered that she didn’t actually have cancer. Here’s Mike Weber. At the time, he was working for the Tarrant County DA’s office and he was the lead investigator into Hope YouBar. The doctor couldn’t find any record of Hope’s Cancer and hope’s mother.

Mike Webber: Ask Fabian and Yaar hope’s husband, um, for access to their insurance files so she could find the records. And she went into the files and discovered that Hope did not have cancer, and she had a awareness of Munch housing by proxy. Uh, she then became [00:17:00] concerned about the victim in this case and, uh, made those concerns known to, um, Dr.

Mike Webber: Schultz at Cook’s Children’s Hospital. At this point, the doctors were becoming concerned that hope’s cancer wasn’t the only thing that she was lying about. So they asked Hope and Fabian to bring their youngest daughter into the hospital to redo her sweat test. This is a simple, non-invasive test that’s administered via a sensor on the child’s skin to determine whether or not the child has cystic fibrosis.

Mike Webber: My real involvement didn’t come until after they came back for the sweat test, and after those sweat tests came back negative for cystic fibrosis. Ka cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease. Uh, the doctors tell me you don’t have it and then not have it. So the previous test had to be falsified. I interviewed Fabian Yar.

Mike Webber: Pretty early, and I think like any dad, he tried to present himself as being more involved in his child’s medical care than he actually was. I, I think any [00:18:00] parent has guilt over not being involved or not seeing,

Fabian Ybarra: so she took a cab to go take her to the hospital. I was gonna meet her at the hospital. And so we all went there and they, they’re doing the swab tests and I, it’s just an easy sweat test and stuff like that.

Fabian Ybarra: And so they were gonna give the youngest one. A swab test, a simple swab test. She was licking her thumb and because you, you have sweat and you have sweat everywhere, and she was rubbing it on where they did the test. And I know what I in my background. Wait a minute, is she doing what? I think she’s doing?

Andrea: What Fabian’s getting at here is that even under scrutiny, hope was still attempting to tamper with her daughter’s test. This was also observed by the nurses in the room. At the time, Hope’s family believed everything that she was telling them. It wasn’t until many years later that they began to go back over their memories with forensic detail.

Andrea: Again, here’s Robin.

Robin: My mom started to dig for answers. What else is she lying about? We started [00:19:00] to question everything we knew about Hope. Every little detail of her life that we could pick apart, we did. And my mom was like, what if she was lying about this? What if she was lying about that? And she goes, What if those babies were never real?

Robin: And I remember the look on her face when she was mortified, starting to break apart the events that happened that about that pregnancy. She goes, I was at the hospital, it was real. And then my dad asked her, but did you see them? And she goes, no, I didn’t have to see them. And then that was whenever she just really started to think about how could somebody lie.

Robin: We had a lot of hope stuff at the house because she came to my parents’ house to die. Now, my mom had access to her medical records. She started going through boxes. She couldn’t find proof of her going to an obgym. I remember one of the first times she went to go see her, my mom went over there and asked her, is this true?

Robin: Did you ever have. These grandchildren, my morning grandchildren that weren’t there, and my sister of [00:20:00] course lied to her and said, no, they were real. All this was real. She kind of held onto that. It took us probably a couple months, we realized that the babies weren’t true. And so then she asked her in a follow up, you know, visit with her and my sister admitted that they were never real, that she had had some stomach pain.

Robin: So she was in the hospital for stomach pains. They assumed, you know, ovarian C or something. But after that she ended up having a hysterectomy supposedly, you know, whether she or not. But she still says that that happened. We were still at the hospital for that event. Um, but you know, down the road now she says that that’s what happened and she had a hysterectomy.

Robin: Not that she lost. These babies,

Andrea: As the butchers tried to piece together what was happening to them, Mike continued on his investigation. I asked Mike what it was like the first time he spoke to Hope Ybarra herself.

Mike Webber: Hope first lied, and I allowed her to lie to me, provable lies that I had evidence about. I got a complete history, medical history, social history of her and all of her children, and she [00:21:00] lied about her middle child and said her middle child had always been healthy.

Mike Webber: She had presented her middle child with treble palsy, and actually when we did a forensic interview with the middle child, she talked about how uh, she had to use leg braces and the same leg braces, same mucus vests as the victim when she was younger. Then she told us she was currently a gymnast. You have this dichotomy.

Mike Webber: Uh, she told us she had a miracle recovery and she told us when the victim was born. This is one of the cases where you have the transfer from an older child to a younger child. The younger child usually gets the brunt of the abuse. It’s almost like they practiced their craft on the older, on the older child.

Mike Webber: So you think it’s practice and then also that the younger the child is, the more vulnerable they are to this type of abuse? Correct. And we see a lot of premature births with this type of abuse. Um, this victim was born premature [00:22:00] and we’ll never know. She’ll never tell us. We’ll never know if she did something to cause that premature birth because she was already committing this abuse against the middle child that we know.

Mike Webber: And of course, she also had the munch housen behavior on herself with the years long cancer hoax. Yes, she had presented her own cancer, which was a lie, and she had, I mean, she had gone through two remissions. She had had parties with the family. The family was completely manipulated by her. It sounds like in many ways hope’s interview was run of the mill for child abuse offenders.

Mike Webber: It definitely wasn’t run of the mill in what she told me. It’s not often you have someone give you admissions about putting pathogens at least into her daughter’s sputum sample, but it was run of the mill in the fact that she first lied. And she then, when confronted with facts that prove she was lying, she made alternative statements and then made admissions and then never told the whole truth.

Mike Webber: That is every abusive [00:23:00] head trauma interview I’ve ever had, that is every physical and sexual abuse interview I’ve ever had with children offenders. You rarely ever get the full story. And same thing with hope. This surprised me when I first learned it, but it’s not actually a crime to lie to a doctor about your child’s health.

Andrea: So even though hope’s, lies were prodigious, Mike had to focus on a crime that he had clear evidence of and which he could charge hope with.

Mike Webber: How we ended up charging Hope is was a hospital visit where Hope brought the victim in and the victim was anemic and hope demanded a IV. Iron treatment, from what I understand, is not really a standard treatment because children are very allergic.

Mike Webber: Many children are allergic to this treatment. You know, hope was demanding it. She said. The victim’s already had this treatment in Dallas. It’ll be fine. You, you can skip the protocol. She wanted the doctor to skip the protocol. The doctor refused to skip protocol and thank God, because when they saw the ID iron treatment, the victim went into anaphylactic shock.[00:24:00]

Mike Webber: Absent medical intervention, that was a substantial risk of death for the victim, and that is how we ended up charging hope, withdrawing blood from the victim, which caused anemia, which caused an IV iron treatment, which caused anaphylactic shock. Absent medical intervention was a substantial risk of death, so you can see even how convoluted that indictment is and how, how much of a stretch it is to get there.

Andrea: So child abuse laws are not designed with this kind of abuser in mind. And so it took a lot of work for Mike to put together this indictment, and they ended up being able to use three things against hope, the pathogens that she’d put into her child, the blood loss from the anemia that she’d caused, and the faked cystic fibrosis test.

Robin: She still claims that her daughter had to get the feeding tube because she was choking on her milk. She still insists that was true though she later admitted to me that [00:25:00] she also remembers pouring water in her daughter’s formula so she wouldn’t gain weights. She almost, at times seemed to me like she couldn’t tell the difference between the truth and the lie.

Andrea: This resonated with me because this feeling of trying to figure out. What the person who’s lying to you actually believes is really disorienting. And during this time, the butchers were going through the same process of trying to understand how much hope understood about her own behavior. And in fact, when they first found out she was lying about her cancer, they suspected she was having delusions.

Andrea: But I just wanna reiterate here that Munchausen by proxy abuse, is really separate from having delusions. It is intentional and it’s done knowingly.

Robin: And I had asked her, well, tell me what you do remember doing. And she said, well, I remember stirring salt in the water so that I could alter her test and give her a [00:26:00] false positive for cystic fibrosis.

Robin: I remember doctor shopping when a doctor wouldn’t believe me or wouldn’t do something I wanted. I remember going to other doctors and I said, so what are some of the lies? And she said, I remem, you know, I wasn’t a drum major. And that just was such a strange thing for her to say because here’s one of the lies she’s admitting.

Robin: She told that she was never a drum major, but I had a yearbook that shows she was a drum major. I don’t know why it was that little detail that bothered me so much, but it was because it was such a little detail and for her to now tell me it was a lie when I have all this other evidence showing it’s true, it, it really does put anything she says into this light of.

Robin: Is it true? Is it false? Like, can you believe anything? Did it feel like she was talking about a different person almost at times. It really did. And, and she tried to present herself as a different person. Like this wasn’t right. She kept pointing to her [00:27:00] head and saying, this wasn’t right. I, I was crazy up here and I thought I had to do this stuff to get the attention.

Robin: I think she was trying to present herself as a change person. Now, as someone who sees that. She was truthful in that she acknowledged that this was something she still battled with, that there wasn’t a magic pill she could take to cure this for all the lies that she’s told, hope has pretty consistently admitted to the fact that she has a real problem with the truth.

Andrea: Another reporter that Hope spoke to while she was in prison asked her why people listening to the interview should believe anything that she says, given her history of lying, and she said to that reporter. Nobody should believe me. These moments in these interviews where hope is honest about her own dishonesty are these weird glimmering moments of truth and of something like accountability [00:28:00] that.

Andrea: You really can’t find anywhere else in any other interviews with perpetrators, and that was one of the big reasons that I so wanted to talk to Hope in particular, beyond the parallels that her family and my family had. She spoke to Deanna Boyd about her day-to-day struggles with the truth.

Robin: And that day to day, she had issues with telling the truth.

Robin: She said, when I leave this interview today and I go back to their dorm, she said, they’re all gonna be like, where have you been? Where have you been? And as I’m walking back, I’m gonna be thinking like, what fantastic lie, can I tell. These people and it’s gonna take all I have to just to tell ’em the truth that my doctor’s appointment was delayed, and then I had this interview and I thought that I’m sure was the truth.

Andrea: Ultimately, hope took a plea deal and ended up serving 10 years in prison. She served every day of her 10 year sentence. Fabian [00:29:00] ended up divorcing her. He raised his three children by himself. I’ve spent a lot of time with the butchers, and there was considerable fallout from this situation that went beyond just.

Andrea: What it did to them emotionally. Paul was forced to resign from his job. They had to explain to all of the people who had donated money for Hopes Cancer, that it had been a lie. A lot of people thought they were in on it. When I was first looking up the butchers to, uh, reach out to them, the first two people I reached out to were Fabian Nevara and Susan Butcher.

Andrea: I really wanted to talk to Susan because I just really admired the fact that she had called Dr. Schultz and told her that she was worried that hope was lying. I know that is not an easy call to make. She did the right thing and she did it right away, but just I have so much admiration for her because that is certainly not how a lot of families behave in this situation, as we’ll hear about more in some of these other stories we talk about.

Andrea: I [00:30:00] reached out to her and I sent her a Facebook message, and I didn’t realize until I had actually gotten in touch with Rob and Butcher that Susan had died in 2019 and she died about six months before Hope got out of prison. I know that Susan and Paul visited Hope while she was in prison. Hope continued to lie to them.

Andrea: She continued to lie about the abuse. She continued to lie about not remembering anything that had happened. She had claimed to have this diabetic. Coma and said that she didn’t remember doing any of these things, though she sort of admitted in a way that she’d done them. She said, oh, if the doctor said I did them, I must have done them.

Andrea: But she didn’t really take accountability and she was still pretending to be deaf, and her parents knew she wasn’t deaf. And so I think the visits became so frustrating to them that they told hope that if she continued that behavior of lying to them, that they would no longer come to see her. And so she did continue to lie to them, and so they ended up not visiting her any longer.

Andrea: A meeting with the butchers. What a like loving, wonderful family they [00:31:00] are. And I just got such a sense of how much they loved hope and that they were willing to just do anything for her. It really helped me have this sense of peace that I could look at them. And think this is a nice loving family and they didn’t deserve any of the things that happened to them and they did not cause this.

Andrea: So I think that was a really unique and profound experience for me to get to break through that with them. It’s not that I went into any of this process thinking that I was gonna be some detached sort of journalistic observer. Like I know I’m not, and I don’t wanna present myself as though I am, but having that experience on the human level was really such a gift for me.

Andrea: On the next episode, we’ll take a look at the system that caught Hope Ybarra, and talk about why there seems to be such a high rate of this particular crime in Tarrant County, Texas. If you’ve been listening to this podcast [00:32:00] and some of the details sound very familiar to you from your own life, or someone that you know, Please visit us@munchhouseandsupport.com.

Andrea: We have resources there from some of the top experts in the country, and we can connect you with professionals who can help. If you are curious about this show and the topic of munchhouse and by proxy, follow me on Instagram at Andrea Dunlop. If you would like to support the show, you can do so at patreon.com/nobody should believe me, and if monetary support is not an option for you right now, you can also rate and review the podcast on Apple and share on your social media.

Andrea: Word of mouth is so important for podcasts and we really appreciate it. Nobody should Believe me is a production of large media. Our lead producer is Tina Noel. The show was edited by Lisa Gray with help from Wendy Nay. Jeff Gal is our sound engineer. Additional scoring and music by Johnny Nicholson and Joel Schock.

Andrea: Also special thanks to Maria Paolos, Joel Noel. And Katie Klein for project coordination. I’m your host and executive producer, Andrea Dunlop.[00:33:00]

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...

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...

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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

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...

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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

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 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

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...

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