Mom Convicted of Starving Son to Death Vomits in Court Looking at Images of His Dead Body

 Mom Convicted of Starving Son to Death Vomits in Court Looking at Images of His Dead Body

(Muskegon County Jail)

A Michigan woman who was convicted of the heinous crime of starving her disabled teenager to death had a violent reaction while testifying on the stand. Shanda Vander Ark, 44, faced a grueling cross-examination where she was shown pictures of her emaciated son, Timothy Ferguson, taken just hours before his tragic demise.

During her testimony, Vander Ark claimed that she had given her 15-year-old son a warm bath shortly before he was found dead in July 2022. However, her older son contradicted this statement. Timothy was discovered deceased in a makeshift closet where he was forced to sleep, wrapped only in a tarp. An autopsy revealed that the 15-year-old, who weighed a mere 69 pounds, had succumbed to malnourishment and hypothermia.

Prosecutor Matt Roberts pressed Vander Ark on the details of the alleged bath, confirming that she had personally placed Timothy in the bath and washed him herself. He then displayed several pictures of Timothy’s bruised and severely emaciated body in front of his mother, asking, “He looked like that when you put him in the bathtub?”

In response, Vander Ark immediately raised her hand to her mouth and gagged upon seeing the distressing photographs. She ultimately vomited profusely into a nearby garbage can. Overwhelmed by her physical reaction and overcome with emotion, she attempted to apologize before experiencing another bout of sickness that led to sobbing, causing the judge to clear the courtroom.

Vander Ark remained unwell and did not return to the courtroom when the jury later delivered a guilty verdict on charges of murder and child abuse. The jury’s deliberation took just over an hour, and Vander Ark is now facing mandatory life imprisonment. Prosecutor Matt Roberts asserted, “She killed him. She starved him to death.”

In her defense, Vander Ark’s attorney, Fred Johnson, argued that his client did not fully comprehend the harm she was inflicting on her son and did not realize he was slowly dying from starvation. However, evidence presented during the trial contradicted this claim. Timothy’s elder brother, Paul Ferguson, revealed in text messages and admissions that he had given Timothy an ice bath on the day of his death, following his mother’s instructions. This horrific practice lasted for at least four hours. Additionally, Timothy suffered numerous abuses, including being fed hot sauce, restrained with shackles and zip ties, and deprived of sleep.

Vander Ark had also instructed her elder son, Paul Ferguson, to torment Timothy with a frozen pizza roll and pour hot sauce on his genitals, although Paul refused to carry out the latter act. During his testimony against his mother, Paul admitted to complying with many of her other disturbing demands. He described his actions as akin to Stockholm Syndrome, driven by a deep desire to find a role model who would make him proud due to his low self-esteem.

Related post