DALLAS - Kaylene Bowen-Wright stood before a district judge in a green-striped suit Monday.
It was the first time the Dallas mother has been seen in public since her arrest earlier this month on charges she abused 8-year-old son, Christopher.
Police and Child Protective Services say she lied to doctors, and those lies led to 13 major surgeries and 323 hospital visits. Investigators think the case is one of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a mental disorder in which a caregiver makes up an illness or injury to get medical care.
“This is a case in which a young boy nearly died needlessly more than one time,” prosecutor Jennifer Sawyer told the judge.
Bowen-Wright’s attorney, Mike Howard, asked the judge to reduce her $150,000 bond.
Howard cited Bowen-Wright’s lack of criminal history in his arguments before the judge. He also said that, since the case would involve an “inordinate amount of medical records,” he would need his client out of jail and available to “mount a viable defense.”
“Kaylene loves her children very much,” Howard said after the hearing. “Everything’s she's done has been out of concern for children and their well-being.”
Judge Ernest White agreed to reduce her bond to $25,000. Acting on the concerns of police and prosecutors, he ordered that she have no contact with any children, including Christopher and her two other children.
The judge’s decision was frustrating to Ryan Crawford, Christopher’s father.
“She doesn’t deserve it,” he told WFAA. “Christopher almost died under her care. In my eyes, that’s attempted murder.”
During the hearing, Bowen-Wright’s mother, Twila Wright, told the judge the family could not afford $150,000 bail. She said that if her daughter was released, she would return to live with her live-in boyfriend, who is a DART bus driver.
Wright is trying to get custody of the three children. She told the judge that her daughter and the children lived with her for several years. Wright said they recently moved out when Bowen-Wright’s boyfriend bought a house.
Wright also told the judge that the family is originally from Kansas and that her daughter had attended Kansas University on a track scholarship. She said her daughter had quit working to care after Christopher got sick.
Detective Kimberly Mayfield, a child abuse investigator, told the judge that medical records indicate the abuse started when Christopher was just 11 days old. She says the records indicate that Bowen-Wright and her mother were confronted after they were seen pouring out his milk bottle.
“They would tell the medical professionals that the child completely drank the bottle,” Mayfield said.
Mayfield told the judge that Christopher suffered three life-threatening blood infections caused by the unnecessary medical procedures he underwent. She said doctors in Houston had concluded she had “exaggerated or falsified his symptoms.”
“He really believes he is dying and he really believes that he needs on oxygen and on the feeding tube,” Mayfield said.
Mayfield said Bowen-Wright’s daughter, who is the eldest, still “thinks her brother is dying as well.”
Last month, Christopher and his two siblings were removed from their mother’s care after she came to Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, claiming he had suffered a massive seizure.
On Nov. 9, Bowen-Wright brought Christopher to Children’s Hospital in Dallas. She claimed he was suffering from seizures, according to the CPS affidavit.
Doctors could find no seizure activity on the EKG. But medical staff saw what appeared to be “whole body jerking,” a doctor noted.
“I am very concerned that [Christopher’s] mother has moved from exaggerating symptoms to inducing symptoms,” a doctor wrote to CPS. “If mother has given Chris something to induce a seizure, this is potentially fatal.”
It was the second time that a doctor had reported Bowen-Wright to CPS. In 2015, a doctor reported her concerns to CPS about Bowen-Wright. In a letter, she wrote that there had been “a longstanding concern for possible medical child abuse by many providers.”
CPS unfounded the allegation of medical neglect, records say.
For much of his eight years of life, Christopher has been on a feeding tube delivering food through his small intestines, confined to a wheelchair, and has even spent time in hospice.
At various times, Bowen-Wright said her son had cancer or suffered from a rare degenerative disorder that affected his oxygen supply. She tried to get him on the lung transplant list, according to CPS records.
Doctors and CPS investigators involved in the case now say there was nothing wrong with Christopher and he never needed to have a feeding tube or oxygen -- or many of the medically invasive procedures he underwent.
Bowen-Wright’s mother did not comment after the hearing. She set up a GoFundMe page last week saying that her daughter had been “wrongfully accused.” The page has since been taken down.
Christopher is now eating normally and off oxygen. He remains in foster care.
A CPS custody hearing is set for Wednesday. His father is fighting to get Christopher back.
He says in 2012, a family court district judge stripped him of his visitation rights because he refused to accept that his son was dying. He hired an attorney in 2014 and tried to get the judge to reconsider, but he says she refused to even look at the medical records showing his son was not sick.
He has since seen his son several times since he was placed in foster care. He says his son loves his mother and doesn’t want to believe that she would make him sick.
Crawford hopes Christopher will spend Christmas with him.
“He’s doing really good,” he said. “He’s tired of being in foster care. He’s ready to come home and start a new chapter of his life.”
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