Prosecutor: Mother induced vomiting in daughters, ages 2 and 4, to keep them sick

KING COUNTY -- A Kenmore mom will have to undergo a mental health examination after pleading guilty to two counts of fourth-degree assault Tuesday, as prosecutors say she intentionally kept her two daughters sick, forcing them to vomit.

Carmen Boyce, 35, will serve a suspended jail sentence and is required to undergo mental health evaluation treatment. She is also not allowed unsupervised contact with her children.

Boyce was charged in May, 2013 with abusing her daughters. According to court documents, Boyce took her daughter to Seattle Children's Hospital in December, 2012, saying she suffered from seizures, repeated vomiting and diarrhea. Boyce told doctors she also had a 4-year-old daughter at home that required a feeding tube.

Doctors admitted the 2-year-old girl as a way to examine her over time, because her alleged symptoms were unexplained.

In the evening, shortly after doctors delivered food, a nurse heard Boyce tickling her daughter. Suddenly, documents state, the daughter began to cry and Boyce said, "Well, then just vomit. Vomit."

Nurses and witnesses thought it was strange that Boyce would "aggressively tickle" her daughter when she was supposed to be feeding her. But when interviewed by medical staff, Boyce said, "She took her carrots and she projectile vomited," documents show. Another similar incident was reported when the girl's grandparents tried to give her formula.

Following the tickling incidents, nurses and witnesses grew concerned. One relative began to sneak looks at Boyce in the hospital room via a mirror, documents show. The witness told police she saw Boyce grab the child and hold her down.

"(Boyce) took two fingers, and she grabbed some food, and she shoved them down (the child's) throat," documents show. "(The child's) head was going from side to side, and she's screaming."

The witness reported what she saw to hospital staff. However, Boyce again told nurses the daughter vomited on her own accord while she tried to eat.

Detectives were called to the hospital and interviewed Boyce. Boyce maintained both of her daughters were really sick, and that her 4-year-old daughter required a feeding tube to eat. Both daughters were on numerous medications, she said.

Boyce was told there was video-surveillance in the room, and she then allegedly admitted to putting fingers in her daughter's mouth, but claims she was "sweeping" carrots out, documents show. She denied tickling her daughter, but said she occasionally put her fingers down her daughters' throat to "clear her airway." Boyce allegedly admitted to doing this about 180 times since her daughter was 1-year-old; around three times a week. Boyce said she never told doctors she did this because it was unrelated to her kids' alleged sickness.

Following the interview, Boyce's children were put into protective custody. They stayed at the hospital, where they safely weaned off  all their medications, and no symptoms of sickness were found. Doctors determined a feeding tube surgically implanted in the 4-year-old girl was unnecessary, and removed.

Both daughters were fed an unrestricted diet and were discharged to the care of their paternal grandparents.

There are examples of caregivers intentionally inducing health problems, as in the case of Münchausen syndrome by proxy. However, no official diagnoses of Boyce has been made as shown in court documents.

The exact details of Boyce's guilty plea were not immediately released.