Inside the scandal-ridden world of the ORIGINAL mommy bloggers: FEMAIL reveals what happened to the online stars who captivated the world with their heartfelt parenting tales… only to be outed for scams, abuse, and even MURDER
- Back in the early 2000s, ‘mommy blogging’ was taking the internet by storm
- Mothers were captivating audiences with their candid tips and revelations
- Many of the original blogging stars have been embroiled in bitter scandals since
Back in the early 2000s, ‘mommy blogging’ was taking the internet by storm as women revolutionized parenting with their online advice.
Mothers were captivating audiences with their candid tips and revelations as many laid bare their own struggles – including renowned blogger Heather Armstrong, who sadly passed away earlier this week.
The blogger known as Dooce charted her own experiences as a mother of two girls, and her battles with alcohol and depression.
Armstrong’s death was announced by her boyfriend Pete Ashdown, who told The Associated Press she had died by suicide after recently relapsing following 18 months of sobriety.
Mothers were captivating audiences with their candid tips and revelations as many laid bare their own struggles – including renowned blogger Heather Armstrong (pictured), who sadly passed away earlier this week
Her struggles were only the tip of the iceberg compared to the rest of the blogging world, with many of its stars finding themselves embroiled in bitter scandals after finding fame, including one mom coming under fire for appearing to coach her son to cry on camera and another family slammed for ‘rehoming’ their adopted child.
But other controversies were much worse, and involved second-degree murder convictions and accusations of child cruelty.
Here, FEMAIL has laid bare the worst scandals to rock the world of mommy blogging.
Emily Beth McDonald (The McDonald Five): Jailed for 20 years after smearing feces on her sick three-year-old daughter’s IV drip
Emily Beth McDonald was jailed for 20 years after smearing feces on her three-year-old daughter’s IV drip
Emily Beth McDonald, from Austin, Texas, had welcomed preemie children and turned to online community forums for support.
She was inundated with sympathy and soon decided to launch her own blog, titled The McDonald Five, which followed her children through their medical struggles – particularly daughter Dakota.
McDonald posted several times a week and well-wishers continued flooding back to the site for updates on how the youngster was doing.
But Dakota, then three years old, was seemingly never able to stave off her medical woes and was hospitalized at Dell Children’s Medical Centre in 2009, with a high fever and ‘a long history of chronic diarrhea.’
The girl was fitted with a central venous line – a catheter inserted into a patient’s chest or neck that allows for the quick insertion of medication or fluids and monitors cardiovascular health.
Doctors eventually decided to set up a hidden camera in the toddler’s room after repeated setbacks during her six-week stay.
And, as a result, they were then able to see what had been happening.
According to arrest details, McDonald told police she had smeared human feces on Dakota’s IV catheter five times while she was in hospital.
The mother-of-three admitted second-degree injury and was jailed for 20 years.
Speaking outside court at the time Bob Phillips, who defended McDonald, said she had put feces on the catheter because she wanted to elevate her daughter’s fever so doctors would continue an antibiotics treatment they had planned to stop.
According to arrest details, McDonald told police she had smeared human feces on Dakota’s IV catheter five times while she was in hospital
McDonald was ‘under extreme psychological stress,’ Phillips said, and fatigue and depression contributed to that stress.
‘Obviously it was a criminal act, and it was wrong-headed, but it was done with a pure heart,’ he said.
Travis County prosecutor Rob Drummond said McDonald committed ‘medical child abuse.’
‘It doesn’t have any other rationale than any other form of child abuse would have. Our goal in this case was to protect Emily McDonald’s children and to hold her responsible,’ the prosecutor said.
Rebeccah Beushausen (Little One April Rose): Exposed as a scammer after claiming to be pregnant with terminally ill child
Rebeccah Beushausen, from Chicago, set up a blog titled Little One April Rose on which she claimed she was an unmarried mother who chose to carry her terminally ill child to term rather than have an abortion because of her deep Christian faith.
In one lengthy post, she said her baby was diagnosed with Trisomy 13 syndrome, a chromosomal defect that can cause severe intellectual disability and death.
Her regular updates saw her garner nearly one million followers – many of whom promised to pray for her and her baby, April Rose, and sent letters and gifts to a post office box she listed online.
But when she later wrote about the child’s birth and posted a series of photos, one reader recognized the baby as a life-like doll – and Beushausen’s lie began to unravel.
Rebeccah Beushausen, from Chicago, claimed she was an unmarried mother who chose to carry her terminally ill child to term rather than have an abortion because of her deep faith
The blogger was then forced to apologize for the hoax, which her duped followers branded as ‘sick.’
She posted a lengthy apology on her blog at the time in which she said she had lost several babies while pregnant in the past.
‘I have suffered this type of loss, more than once, to varying degrees, and while the circumstances and the times vary… the pain is very constant,’ she wrote.
Beushausen said she began writing the story as therapy, but became addicted to the attention it generated.
She admitted that she lied ‘to a community of people whose only intention was to support me through this time and that is wrong, and for that I am sorrier than you could know.’
In one lengthy post, she said her baby was diagnosed with Trisomy 13 syndrome, a chromosomal defect that can cause severe intellectual disability and death
Beushausen insisted that she really was a Christian – even quoting from psalms in her apology.
She revealed that she had received some presents, including a baby hat, shoes and a crocheted blanket, that she would give to charity but denied reports that she had been sent money.
Police reportedly did not investigate complaints further, and it did not appear that she profited in a substantial way from the blog.
She had made an agreement with an advertiser, but was never paid because the advert was not up on her blog for the required 45-day minimum.
Lacey Spears (Garnett’s Journey): Convicted of poisoning her five-year-old son to death with huge amounts of salt
Lacey Spears, from Chestnut Ridge, New York, blogged for years about her young son’s constant health struggles on her site, Garnett’s Journey.
The youngster was said to have suffered from numerous mysterious health conditions, including ear infections, seizure-like symptoms, digestive issues and more.
During her trial, prosecutors claimed that there was evidence that Spears had taken her son to 20 different medical facilities over the course of his life, but wasn’t relaying information between each doctor.
Lacey Spears, from Chestnut Ridge, New York, blogged for years about her young son’s constant health struggles on her site, Garnett’s Journey
She was later convicted of poisoning her five-year-old son to death with huge amounts of salt to get attention from her readers
Garnett’s condition took a turn for the worst in January 2014.
He was airlifted from Nyack Hospital to Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital in Westchester after complaining of severe abdominal pain caused by a suspected stomach virus.
But Garnett’s doctors quickly became suspicious after detecting elevated sodium levels in his system.
The little boy’s condition worsened and he died just a short time later after falling into a coma.
Garnett was airlifted from Nyack Hospital to Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital in Westchester after complaining of severe abdominal pain caused by a suspected stomach virus
The 5-year-old’s death was ruled a homicide just two months later.
Spears was found guilty of second-degree murder and convicted of poisoning him to death by force-feeding heavy concentrations of sodium through his stomach tube.
The judge who sentenced Spears to 20 years to life claimed she suffered from a mental illness, adding that the crime was still ‘unfathomable in its cruelty.’
Machelle Hobson (Fantastic Adventures): Accused of beating and starving her seven adopted kids to force them to perform for YouTube videos
Machelle Hobson was accused of abusing seven of her children
Machelle Hobson, also known as Hackney, operated the YouTube channel Fantastic Adventures, which had 800,000 subscribers and more than 250 million total views.
The mommy vlog saw her seven adopted children, aged from six to 15, performing in a variety of whimsical scripted adventures often involving Nerf battles and ending with the children facing the camera and asking viewers to ‘like and subscribe.’
The channel could have taken in roughly $2.5 million in total ad revenue, according to some estimates, of which YouTube would have typically kept $1.125 million with the rest potentially going to Hobson.
But accusations soon came to light that she had been forcing the kids to take part in the clips through a variety of cruel methods.
She was accused of using pepper spray on a child’s genitals, applying a lighter or stun gun to a victim’s genitals, arm or other body parts, and causing the children to become malnourished.
Authorities previously said Hobson locked up the children in a closet for days without food, water or access to a bathroom.
And she was also alleged to have hit them with a clothes hangers and made them take ice baths.
Police said Hobson used cruel methods to force her adopted children (above) to perform in YouTube videos, including forced ice baths and pepper spraying their genitals
Hobson had pleaded not guilty and was due to face a trial on 24 counts of child abuse, five counts of kidnapping and one count of aggravated assault.
Following her arrest, in 2019, Hobson suffered a brain injury in a Pinal County jail and was taken to a local hospital, but her condition did not improve.
She passed away at Scottsdale Hospital after weeks of deteriorating health.
Jordan Cheyenne: Accidentally shared outtake coaching her nine-year-old son to cry
California-based Jordan Cheyenne has posted YouTube vlogs, often about raising son Christian as a single mother, since 2013.
But she faced fierce backlash after accidentally posting an outtake where she coached her nine-year-old crying son on how he should be posing for a video thumbnail.
In the offending video, titled ‘we are heartbroken,’ Cheyenne told viewers that her family’s new puppy had been diagnosed with parvovirus, a condition that can be fatal for unvaccinated dogs.
At the end of the video, presumably in a portion that she had intended to cut, she can be seen telling her son to pose for the camera as he wept.
California-based Jordan Cheyenne accidentally shared an outtake coaching her nine-year-old son to cry
‘Act like you’re crying,’ she told Christian after pulling him into her chest.
‘I am crying!’ he said repeatedly. ‘I am actually, seriously sad.’
Following the uproar, she said that she would stop including her son in her YouTube videos and later told Insider that she was pulling down her channel to focus on Christian’s ‘health and wellbeing.’
‘Getting completely offline, canceling all videos and monetization, and prioritizing my child are all I care about,’ she said in the statement.
‘I’m disgusted and horrified at what I did and there is absolutely no excuse. It’s terrible on so many levels. I love my child more than anything and will regret this moment forever.’
Cheyenne had posted YouTube vlogs, often about raising son Christian as a single mother since 2013
Cheyenne subsequently posted a follow-up titled ‘I am immensely disappointed in myself,’ attempting to explain her behavior.
‘In the ending of the video, I was so emotionally worn out… I had Christian on my shoulder and I was like “come pose for the thumbnail with me” after the video… I shouldn’t have done that,’ she said.
‘I wish I could show us at the vet crying and being so emotional with everything that happened. But then if I did that, you know what people will say? “Why are you filming your son crying? Why are you filming the emotional moment?”‘
Myka Stauffer (The Stauffer Life): Faced backlash after ‘rehoming’ her adopted son because of his medical needs
Myka Stauffer had built up a following of more than 715,000 subscribers on YouTube with mommy vlog The Stauffer Life.
Her most popular videos included clips titled ‘Real Newborn Morning Routine’ and ‘What I Eat In A Day To Stay Healthy And Lean.’
And she had a number of high-profile sponsors including companies like Big Lots, TJ Maxx and Danimals yogurt, according to the New York Post.
She, along with husband James, had adopted son Huxley from China, but decided to ‘rehome’ the youngster after three years.
Myka Stauffer had built up a following of more than 715,000 subscribers on YouTube with mommy vlog The Stauffer Life
In a tearful video uploaded to the family’s channel, James said that he and his wife had discovered that the then four-year-old had ‘a lot more special needs that we were not aware of.’
Myka, who has four biological children, added: ‘Do I feel like a failure as a mom? Like 500 per cent.’
The couple cited medical privacy concerns for not explaining in detail why they decided to give Huxley up.
Myka had previously stated that the toddler has autism and brain trauma.
In a tearful video uploaded to the family’s channel, James said that he and his wife had discovered that the then four-year-old had ‘a lot more special needs that we were not aware of’
The decision was met with ferocious backlash from many who accused the couple of only adopting Huxley in the first place as a stunt to gain viewers.
But Myka said in her video that it was not her fault and that she made the difficult decision for Huxley’s own benefit.
‘I didn’t adopt a little boy to share these things publicly… Ninety-nine, 95 percent of the struggles we have never publicly aired,’ she said.
‘Numerous medical professionals have felt that he needed a different fit. He needed more.’
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