A US mother is under investigation, and her daughter taken away, after the woman allegedly spent years telling the 11-year-old that she had a terminal illness while accepting freebies and donations from her local community.
Shocked friends say Lindsey Abbuhl is "very sick and needs help" after a court found that her daughter Rylee is not ill in any way.
The deception went so far that the little girl had asked some of her friends to act as pallbearers for her funeral.
Three years ago, 34-year-old Abbuhl began telling the local community in Canton, Ohio, that her daughter had a terminal illness relating to her nervous system.
The Canton Repository newspaper reported that a neglect and abuse complaint has been filed in the Family Court by the local arm of Children's Services.
That complaint alleges that Abbuhl "has been using Rylee's 'medical condition' to obtain funding for trips, housing and other expenses for the last several years".
However, a medical professional who reviewed all her medical records found that "'there is no evidence to support mother's claim that Rylee is terminally ill."
The little girl was even taken to see a counsellor to help her process her terminal diagnosis.
Now Rylee is with her father Jamie Abbuhl, who divorced her mother in 2017 and initially raised the alarm with the authorities.
Years of lies
Abbuhl began telling Canton locals that her home-schooled daughter was sick, posting regular updates on social media detailing visits to medical professionals.
Then came the fundraisers and pleas for donations.
"All the money we raise will help cover medical and travel expenses as we continue to find out why her health is declining so rapidly," she wrote on a November 2019 post advertising a tenpin bowling fundraiser.
In October 2020, Abbuhl posted what she claimed were the details of her daughter's terminal illness.
"It's taken a lot of time, patience, testing and doctors but we have gotten to the bottom of it.
"She has a misfire in her central nerve (sic) system. Her body doesn't communicate with the rest of her body. Unfortunately, she will never get better. We now have to focus on the best quality of life for her," she wrote, above another plea for donations.
Abbuhl and her daughter were sent to Florida by charity Wishes Can Happen and also received tickets to concerts and shows.
In February, at a fundraiser organised by local universities, Abbuhl told the Repository that her daughter only had two months to live.
She told the paper that Kylee's organs were shutting down and the main goal for her was preserving her "quality of life".
But her father began to have grave doubts about the veracity of his ex-wife's claims.
He told the Repository she suffered from slow digestion and constipation.
"If she needed my heart, I'd give it to her today," he said.
"As far as her going to die: no."
Others in the community began contacting the paper too, concerned by Rylee's active life posted to social media, which seemed not to gel with her mother's claims.
However, the fundraising lasted right up to last month, when she was planning a softball tournament to raise funds.
"This is an inexpensive tournament for a cause that is unexplainable," the post read.
But the cracks were already showing.
"I may have a lot on my plate right now but I'm focused on making things better. I don't have time to worry about the petty stuff or the rumours or anything else," Abbuhl wrote on April 9.
"I'm living my life - go live yours. The people who truly love Rylee and I are the ones that are a part of our lives and journey."
Contacted by The Repository, Abbuhl refused to allow them to view Rylee's medical records - or to permit her physicians to speak to the paper.
"That's sad people have to cause drama," she told them.
"Rylee sits in during her doctor appointments; she knows what's happening to her.
"So calling me a liar is calling her a liar."
But a court says she was a liar - and the whole ruse came crashing down last week.
A family friend told the paper that she had believed in Abbuhl's stories and their daughters had become friends.
Kate Marksell recalled that the penny dropped when she was watching a TV mini-series that dramatised the true story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard and her mother Dee Dee.
Blanchard had faked her daughter's illness for years to gain sympathy - a condition known as Munchausen syndrome by proxy.
"I think Lindsey is very sick and needs help," Marksell said.
"She thrives on attention, but doesn't know how to get it."