A Dallas woman is facing charges of injury to a child along with serious bodily injury after being accused of putting her healthy 8-year-old son through 323 hospital visits and 13 major surgeries in his short life.
Kaylene Bowen, who now goes by the name Bowen-Wright, was arrested earlier this month. For years she claimed that her son, Christopher, was dying from a rare genetic disorder, tried to get him on a lung-transplant list and even previously had the child in hospice care, according to court documents, the Star-Telegram reports.
Ryan Crawford, Christopher’s father, has long tried to advocate for his young son, suspecting that something was wrong with the child’s mother even before Christopher was born.
At the time, a then-pregnant Bowen would call Crawford in the middle of the night from random hospitals claiming to be sick. When Christopher was born premature at 33 weeks in April 2009, the tales escalated.
“She was always saying Christopher was sick. Every single week. Every single month,” Crawford told the news site. “She would always say, ‘Something’s wrong. He has this. He has that.’”
However, despite trying to be his son’s advocate, Crawford had a hard time finding anyone, even in the legal system, who would believe him. And between 2009 and 2016, medical records show that Christopher was seen 323 times at hospitals and pediatric centers in Dallas and Houston and underwent 13 serious surgeries, child-protective services confirmed.
From the Star-Telegram:
Throughout his young life, Christopher has been placed full time on oxygen and, at times, used a wheelchair. He’s endured invasive procedures and surgeries, including being fitted with a feeding tube that fed directly into his small intestine and led to multiple life-threatening blood infections.
His mother had even tried to get him on the lung transplant list and had previously had him in hospice care, court documents state.
Crawford went before Dallas County Family Court judges to insist that his son was not sick, but the judges always believed Bowen, who would eventually escalate her story further and claim that her son was dying—first, she said, from a rare genetic disorder, and then later on from cancer.
A Dallas County judge even blocked Crawford from seeing his son in 2012, when the child was 3.
“It was always the same story: Christopher is dying. The father doesn’t need to be around because he doesn’t know to take care of him,” Crawford recalled a crying Bowen telling the judges.
“Every time I went to court, they made me feel like I was the worst human ever,” Crawford lamented.
It was only recently, when Dallas hospital staff contacted CPS—the second such report made by medical providers since 2015—that Christopher, now 8, along with his two half-siblings, were removed from their mother’s care.
Christopher does not have cancer or many of the symptoms that Bowen claimed, and he certainly does not need a lung transplant or hospice care.
Bowen is being held in Dallas County Jail in lieu of a $150,000 bond.
As the Star-Telegram notes, the behavior Bowen exhibits fit the description of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a disorder in which a person exaggerates or creates medical symptoms to get attention.
“It’s horrible for my son, or any kid, because obviously my son is not the only one that has had to go through this type of torture,” Crawford said. “The system has to be exposed—all the weaknesses that are in the system—because the kids don’t deserve that.”
To make matters even worse, despite all of this, Crawford is still fighting for access to his child. Christopher is currently in foster care and Crawford is trying to gain custody of his son, but CPS has reportedly been hedging because, they say, Christopher doesn’t know his father well.
I’ll repeat that.
Christopher is currently in foster care, with another family, because child-protective services has reportedly deemed that he does not know his biological father well enough.
“That’s taxpayer money. Why spend all that extra money when he has a father that has been there from day one, that’s been fighting for this?” Crawford said.
However, Crawford seems to have a good work family, with his workplace starting a GoFundMe to help him raise money for his ongoing legal battles.
The GoFundMe has raised $6,833 of its $25,000 goal so far.
Bear in mind that back in 2014, when Crawford attempted to file for custody of Christopher, he said he shelled out $7,000 in an attempt that ultimately failed.
At the time, Bowen cried and claimed that the then-4-year-old Christopher was in a coma, earning the sympathy of one Judge Lori Hockett.
“Lori Hockett immediately stated she’d heard this case and she can’t believe we would drag Kaylene back to court when the child is dying,” Crawford recalled. “She wouldn’t hear the new evidence that included doctor reports that Christopher was not ill.”
Hockett is currently no longer a judge but does still work in family law mediation. She declined to respond to the Telegram’s request for comments regarding Crawford’s allegations.
In the meantime, Crawford has to be content with supervised visits with his son once a week.
During their first meeting on Nov. 28, CPS introduced Crawford to Christopher as his “real father.”
“I told him how much I loved him,” Crawford said. “I told him I’d been praying to God for eight years for this moment.”
Christopher’s 6-year-old half brother is still in foster care; however, his 13-year-old half sister has been placed with her biological father, according to CPS.
And I know you’re wondering (because I certainly was) how Bowen managed to put Christopher through so many medical procedures without raising eyebrows from medical professionals long before now.
As the Telegram notes:
According to Bowen’s arrest warrant affidavit, investigators believe Bowen began abusing her son as early as April 24, 2009, when Christopher was only 11 days old. Hospital staff spotted Bowen pouring out milk that her son didn’t finish, then lying to medical professionals, saying he’d had the whole bottle.
According to Dallas police Detective Kimberly Mayfield, that instance of wrong-doing began an 8-year cycle of Bowen seeking medical treatment, doctor shopping and providing exaggerated and/or false information to medical providers. Those lies, she alleges, led to Christopher undergoing tests, radiological exams, surgeries, receiving feeding tubes, ports, pic and central lines and suffering three life-threatening blood infections.
As for Christopher, it looks like physically, for the most part, he will be OK. After being removed from his mother’s care, he was admitted to the hospital, where he was eating regularly, suffered from no seizures and had no need for a feeding tube, oxygen or IV, Mayfield wrote in the affidavit.
Crawford said that his son has apparently been taken off all his medication, with the exception of those for his allergies.
“You would think my son would be so screwed up. Obviously mentally, he’s going to need some counseling,” Crawford said. “But he is so sweet, so nice, so playful. You wouldn’t think that he had gone through all this abuse.”
Read more at the Star-Telegram.