Hannah Milbrandt was drugged as a child so her mother could fake a cancer illness and run a scam on kind hearted people willing to donate money to the family. Now 21, Hannah Milbrandt revealed that her mother Theresa faked the entire disease in order to con her neighbors out of a staggering £23,000/$32,574. Here’s the story of an Ohio resident, whose mother who was supposed to provide her with love and care, but instead preyed on her innocence and conned both Hannah and the people around her.
The Milbrandt family is from a small town in southwestern Ohio.
As a little girl, Hannah Milbrandt had her head shaved, bandages taped to the back of her head to pretend to cover a medical port which didn’t exist, and was drugged with sleeping pills on a regular basis by her mother. Milbrandt says her mother ruined her life — the two live mere miles apart, but have not had any contact in years.
“I was seven when I found out I had cancer. I was too young to fully understand what it meant, but watching my dad, Bob, break down in tears was enough to make me scared. My mum, Theresa, had taken me to the doctor with a mild fever and a cough. I felt OK, just a bit under the weather, but I was sent for a scan nevertheless. Later, Mum sat the family down and told us the doctor had found a tumor on the base of my spine. ‘It could be terminal,’ she said, and my father crumpled,” she told Mirror.
Hannah (center) was seven when her mother Theresa (right) faked her daughter’s cancer story.
In order to make her illness look convincing, Theresa even fabricated chemotherapy sessions, forced Hannah to wear a surgical mask and shaved off her hair. To make things worse, she told Hannah that she had only weeks to live.
“I remember a lot [of what happened] I remember feeling somewhat sick but not to the point of how I was being made out to be…”
The drama began when Theresa, then 35, took Hannah, who was suffering from a mild cough and a temperature, to the doctors.
Soon after the doctors visit, Hannah was taken to a scan, after which Theresa told the entire family how Hannah had a spinal tumor.
“‘It could be terminal”’, she said, and my father crumpled,” Hannah recalled of the moment.
At that moment, Hannah’s life changed completely.
“Overnight, life changed drastically. Mum made me wear a surgical mask, telling me it would stop other people’s germs making me sick,” she said.
After convincing the family that Hannah was terminally ill, Theresa then turned her attention towards the community church and neighbors for funds. She made them believe that the funds were for Hannah’s supposed “treatment”.
“The church was great, organizing fundraisers to help pay for the expensive treatment Mum said I needed. The congregation was distraught and prayers were said for me,” said Hannah.
Church members and neighbors were distraught by the news and wanted to help her recover. Although Hannah wasn’t fond of all the attention she was getting.
“I hated the attention, but Mum was so grateful for their fundraising. ‘You’re my million-dollar baby’ she told me, but I didn’t know what she meant,” Hannah explained.
Theresa was a home care nurse and she administered Hannah’s “medication” herself.
However, the medicines injected into Hannah’s body weren’t working at all. In fact, they were having an adverse effect.
“I started getting awful headaches and felt exhausted all the time,” Hannah revealed.
The most promising feature of the scam was the fake chemo sessions Theresa provided for Hannah. Her mother would drug her and after she gained consciousness, she would tell her that she had been given medication.
“One day I woke up with a bandage on my lower spine,” Hannah said, adding her mother would tell her “the bandage was covering the part where your cancer nurse, Beth, administered your chemo.”
As time went by, the chemotherapy sessions started becoming frequent.
Her mother placed bandages (circled) around her daughter’s body – claiming they covered a port where chemotherapy was administered. As time went by, Hannah noticed that the amount of chemotherapy sessions she received had doubled.
“Beth came regularly after that, although I never saw her. I’d wake up with bandages where Beth had treated me,” Hannah revealed.
The community church as well as many heartbroken neighbors supported Theresa’s fundraising campaigns to get the required financial assistance needed for the supposed treatment.
“After an article in the local newspaper, donations came flooding in. The church donated $7,000 (£5,200) from bake sales and the local firefighters gave me a puppy that I called Socks. People even started donating the ring pulls from soft drink cans, so Mum could cash them in for recycling. One very sick wheelchair-bound teenage girl, who’d spent nine years collecting for her own care, donated the whole lot to my fund,” Hannah revealed.
Theresa’s scam came out in the open when a teacher at Hannah’s school noticed her hair growing back evenly instead of in a patchy pattern, usually seen in cancer patients.
The above image shows Hannah with her father, who was also imprisoned with his wife Theresa.
“Out of the blue, it all ended as suddenly as it had begun when Mum, Dad, and Grandma were all arrested. One of my teachers had noticed my hair was growing back fuzzily but evenly, instead of the patchy regrowth chemo patients experience. She became suspicious and reported my mum to the local family services department.”
When the local family services department confronted Theresa, she admitted to faking her daughter’s illness, and through which she had managed to scam an entire community out of thousands of dollars. Theresa was soon apprehended and admitted to a mental hospital.
She pleaded guilty by reason of insanity to theft and child endangerment, claiming to have Munchausen by Proxy—a mental illness in which a caregiver invents or causes an illness for the person in their care.
Theresa pleaded guilty to all charges levied against her and was imprisoned for six-and-a-half-months. Her father maintained his innocence but pleaded guilty to child endangerment as well as a felony theft. Hannah’s grandmother was acquitted of theft.
Today, Hannah hopes to leave the trauma of her childhood behind and continue her life with her partner.
“I’m still haunted by what Mum did, I don’t think I’ll ever truly get over it. I’m now at university, studying to be a social worker. I want to help kids in foster care, because I know how scary that can be,” Hannah said.
Hannah is all set to get married to the love of her life, though she admits that she has struggled with suicidal thoughts and depression.
She is working part-time as a waitress and attending nearby Wittenberg University to become a middle school teacher.
In the end, the question remains — How can a parent do this to their own child?