Lindsey Abbuhl Canton Ohio mother loses custody of 11 year old daughter after faking terminal cancer collecting free gifts and donations.
For three years a now 11 year old Ohio girl believed her imminent death was a foregone conclusion after coming to trust her mother who told her she was in the grips of an incurable terminal disease. Except she wasn’t.
Come this weekend, Lindsey Abbuhl, 34, lost custody of her daughter, Rylee Abbuhl, after authorities placed the child in the care of her father after the girl’s mother’s ongoing falsely claiming the child was terminally ill in a bid to raise money and secure free gifts.
Lindsey Abbuhl, 34, told the community in Canton, Ohio, that Rylee had a terminal condition, resulting from a failure of her central nervous system.
Three years ago she began fundraising for living and ‘medical expenses’, taking Rylee frequently to the doctors and telling her she was dying.
Charity events were held in Rylee’s honor, and the pair secured free tickets to Sea World. They were made guest of honor at a Texas A&M softball game, and a GoFundMe set up by a friend received $4,500.
No evidence exists to support mother’s claims
Rylee even began asking friends to be pall bearers at her funeral.
On Friday a court announced it had found no evidence of any illness.
A neglect and abuse complaint filed by Children Services in Family Court alleges Lindsey ‘has been using Rylee’s ‘medical condition’ to obtain funding for trips, housing and other expenses for the last several years.’
The document, obtained by The Canton Repository, notes a medical professional reviewed all of Rylee’s medical records involving neurology, genetics, gastrointestinal, hematology, rheumatology, pulmonology and podiatry and concluded:
‘There is no evidence to support mother’s claim that Rylee is terminally ill,’ they concluded.
Rylee has seen a counselor for the past three years to learn how to ‘process her own death,’ the report stated.
The counselor recently learned Rylee was not terminally ill.
Seeds planted of terrible illness
‘(Lindsey) also told the counselor, who is going on maternity leave, that Rylee may not be alive when the counselor returns,’ the complaint states.
The court granted full custody to Rylee’s father, Jamie Abbuhl, who had divorced Lindsey in 2017 and raised the alarm. At the time of divorce, Lindsey had been awarded sole custody of the estranged couple’s daughter.
‘It needed to be done,’ said Christine A. Johnson, attorney for Jamie Abbuhl.
Lindsey is being criminally investigated, said Major C.J. Stantz, sheriff of Stark County.
Lindsey first started telling friends and neighbors that her home-schooled daughter was sick in 2017.
Lindsey herself had once claimed to have a brain tumor, and had even interviewed families to adopt Rylee after she died.
Campaigning on behalf of daughter
The family seemed beset by bad luck, and Lindsey would document her daughter’s hospital visits on social media.
‘This little lady is my best friend! Continue to say prayers for her as we navigate through her medical concerns,’ she posted at the time according to the dailymail.
‘We don’t know what her future holds, and we don’t know if tomorrow will come for her each time we go to bed but the prayers and faith of all those we love helps keep us going!’
A supervisor at a bowling lane, Lindsey would organize bowling fundraisers and arranged a ‘Rylee’s Warriors’ youth softball tournament in Plain Township in April, to cover medical costs.
‘Come out and join a short fun league! 10 weeks long — will skip the Sunday of Easter.
‘Part of the weekly money goes to the bowling alley, the rest goes to Rylee. Message me if you’d like to sign up!’
In December, Wishes Can Happen sent Lindsey and her daughter on a trip to Key West, Florida.
Coaches and players from softball teams at Malone and Walsh universities joined for a ‘Rylee Day’ at Hall of Fame Fitness Center, an event surrounding an indoor exhibition game between the two Stark County schools.
Local media covered the February 26 event, and Lindsey spoke of how much it meant to her daughter.
Bucket list comes true
‘She has two months,’ Lindsey told The Canton Repository as she watched her daughter throw out the first pitch, then joined the Malone dugout to call pitches for the game.
Lindsey said Rylee’s organs were shutting down and the main goal for her was ‘quality of life.’
Personalized videos to Rylee were sent from the likes of pro star Sierra Romero, as well as dozens of colleges from Penn State to UCLA.
Softball players at Rylee’s favorite team – Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana – took her on a virtual tour of campus, including a stop at the scaled-down replica of the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, where an Irish player lit a candle for Rylee, then shared a prayer from the chaplain.
She even threw the first pitch for a Feb. 16 rival game between Walsh University and Malone University after meeting team members and coaches.
Texas A&M’s softball team invited Rylee to fly out to College Station; she and her mother visited Sea World on the trip – something Lindsey said was on Rylee’s bucket list.
But Rylee’s father was growing alarmed.
He said she suffered from slow digestion and constipation.
‘If she needed my heart, I’d give it to her today,’ he said.
Questions were beginning to be asked: ‘why isn’t she dead?’
‘As far as her going to die: no.’
People within the community also began contacting the newspaper, The Canton Repository, and questioning Lindsey’s motives.
When asked, Lindsey declined on multiple occasions to release her daughter’s medical records for The Repository to review. She also was reluctant to allow physicians at Akron Children’s Hospital — where she said Rylee had been treated — to speak to the newspaper.
‘She has a whole team of doctors working on her,’ Lindsey said.
Lindsey said they medical team had performed multiple tests on her daughter, but were unable to determine the root of her illness.
She said her daughter regularly suffered nighttime seizures, could barely eat, was on pain medications and was nearly always exhausted.
‘That’s sad people have to cause drama,’ she’d said.
‘Rylee sits in during her doctor appointments; she knows what’s happening to her.
‘So calling me a liar is calling her a liar.’
Child services visited on Thursday, and Rylee was taken to a family friend.
Kate Marksell told the paper that her daughter became friends with Rylee, and told of Lindsey’s tearful breakdown over the fact Rylee had been diagnosed with leukemia.
‘She was always trying to have more tests run,’ Marksell said.
Munchausen syndrome by proxy
Yet Rylee appeared healthy, and continued to play, eat and travel. On social media posts, Rylee would be climbing a mountain of steps to go sledding, while supposedly fighting for her life.
Marksell then watched a mini-series, The Act, on Hulu which tells the true story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard and her mom, Dee Dee. The Missouri woman for years pretended her daughter was seriously ill to win sympathy and attention, in a condition known as Munchausen syndrome by proxy.
‘I think Lindsey is very sick and needs help,’ Marksell said, adding she needs to be held accountable for damage she’s done.
‘She thrives on attention, but doesn’t know how to get it.’
Abbuhl has since denied making up the illness according to the Canton Repository.
Rylee will remain with her father until a court hearing in June.