A Park Hill mother who allegedly faked her son’s illness through years of abuse, and collected money from fundraisers hosted by community members, is set to go to court.
Kasie Keys was arrested in August and charged with child abuse after District Attorney Jack Thorp requested assistance from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.
According to an affidavit, Keys gave birth to a healthy boy in 2009. She and her ex-husband, Charles York, shared custody of the boy, but she progressively limited and denied him visitation.
Beginning in 2012, various medical issues began plaguing the boy, and he ended up on oxygen and in a wheelchair. He was put on a feeding tube that was later replaced by a total parenteral nutrition or intravenous nutrition. The boy couldn’t eat solid foods, and Keys reported he would not bear weight on his legs. She claimed the boy suffered from mitochondrial disease.
According to the affidavit, Keys took her son to see several pediatricians over the years, and they were not able to identify causes for the medical issues. Keys reported to local pediatrician Gary Gaston that her son had chronic leg pain and had been diagnosed with development delays and cerebral palsy. Laura Bode saw the boy in the hospital several times for infections, vomiting, and vitamin deficiency. Bode said Keys asked for unnecessary procedures.
A Tulsa pediatrician, Shawna Duncan, was able to wean the boy off the oxygen and almost back to full feedings through the tube while he was under hospital care. However, after going back home and under Keys’ care, the boy was back on oxygen and could not tolerate tube feedings.
According to the affidavit, the same doctor observed the boy standing up and playing. He laid back down and apologized for being up. Duncan asked him why he was sorry, and he said he wasn’t supposed to be up. Keys asked the doctor for unnecessary procedures as well.
“Duncan told him if he felt like being up and playing, then he should be up and play,” the affidavit said. “Keys was being untruthful about the boy's tolerance to feedings.”
Matthew Misner, the pediatrician who managed the boy's TPN that was not adjusted correctly, indicated that could cause abdominal pain, vomiting, jaundice, or even death, if it progressed. Keys failed to show up to appointments that would have helped wean the boy off the TPN.
Misner also saw nothing that would indicate the boy needed a wheelchair. He asked the boy to get up and walk several times, and he was able to do so. Keys also failed to show up for those appointments and said her son needed to be in the wheelchair.
Court records indicated the doctor asked Keys why her son needed to be on oxygen, and she claimed he had respiratory problems. During examinations, no respiratory issues were found, and other doctors said oxygen saturation levels were fine.
Keys then sought out a hospice provider and told medical professionals her son was "terminal." Good Shepard Hospice refused to take in the boy because Keys didn’t provide supporting documentation. However, Physician’s Choice Hospice took him in without a medical records review.
According to the affidavit, Keys was seen giving the boy discontinued medication and withholding prescribed medications and TPN additives.
Pediatric gastroenterologist Marilyn Steele saw the boy for feeding tolerance issues and intestinal pseudo-obstruction. The level of improvement of the boy's medical conditions was unusual, she said.
“Steele had only seen this type of improvement in cases of falsified medical conditions,” the affidavit said. “His improvement was directly related to being out of Keys’ care.”
Mary Stockett, who specialized in child abuse pediatrics, completed a review of the boy's medical records and concluded he received invasive procedures based on symptoms described by Keys, rather than testing.
“Stockett’s opinion was that Keys was physically abusing him through medical child abuse, or Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy,” the affidavit said. “He was never diagnosed with a terminal illness, according to medical records.”
In June 2018, the boy's heath declined to the point that nursing staff had prepared for him to die. Rhonda Johnson, a registered nurse and case worker for Physician’s Choice Hospice, spent the night at Keys’ home.
“Keys insisted Johnson use up the vials of medication Keys had been dispensing. Johnson followed standard protocol and used sealed, unused vials to medicate him. He improved overnight,” the affidavit said.
Because there was a substantial risk of death, the boy was removed from his mother’s custody and hospitalized at the Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital.
York got full custody of his son, and since then, the boy is no long dependent on a feeding tube or a wheelchair. He is able to eat solid foods without complications and is normally active.
A warrant was issued for Keys’ arrest, and she was taken to the Cherokee County Detention Center.
According to online court reports, Keys bonded out and is set to appear in front of Special District Judge Gary Huggins on Nov. 25 at 9 a.m. in Cherokee County District Court.