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Mom's Claim about Child with Cancer is False
ATLANTIC, Iowa (KCCI-TV)—Atlantic police said a mother has been charged after claiming her 5-year-old daughter had cancer, which she did not, and using the claim to raise money for the family.
Leatha Kaye Slauson, 30, of Atlantic, was charged with child endangerment and a drug charge for giving the girl cannabis oil.
Police said they started investigating the case after a report of possible child abuse was received by the department about 3 p.m. Thursday. Authorities said school officials looking into what special care the girl would need in part uncovered questions about medical contacts that didn't seem to pan out.
The Atlantic Police Department, Cass County Sheriff's Office, Cass County Attorney and Iowa Department of Human Services are involved in the investigation.
Police said the preliminary investigation showed Slauson was claiming her daughter suffered from cancer, and in recent months that the child was terminal.
Police said the child was found to not be suffering from any life-threatening illness.
They said Slauson did give her daughter cannabis oils.
Slauson was arrested, charged and taken to the Cass County Jail. Slauson was the only person involved in the matter, police said.
Police said in the past year she raised money from individuals and organizations that included a trip to Walt Disney World for the Super Riley Fund.
Slauson told KETV-TV in Omaha last spring that doctors diagnosed 5-year-old Riley with colorectal cancer in September, 2013.
"(The cancer) is just spreading too fast," said Leatha Slauson, during an April 26 interview with KETV. "It spread to her liver and the last MRI (showed) it spread to her lymph nodes and they stopped chemotherapy."
The story involved Riley who wanted to be a firefighter getting to ride in an Atlantic firetruck, which was on her bucket list.
Authorities are asking the community at this time to stop donations to the fund. They said so far they don't know a total amount that was donated to the family.
"I don't think the hearts of this community will be hardened by this," said Police Chief Steve Green. He said the community has always helped its members and he doesn't expect this case will change that.
Authorities said the family has four other children that are now being cared for by the father.
Authorities said the father was very upset after learning about this and they believe he did not know anything about it. He was "struggling with how to proceed in his life" after learning the news.