Leah Dyer Blames Media in Abuse Case: 7-Year-Old Weighed 37 Pounds, Couldn't Walk
"You've destroyed my family," Leah Dyer told members of the media at the 8th Judicial District courthouse in Fort Collins yesterday. But prosecutors believe Dyer and her husband, Douglas, did a pretty good job of that all by themselves. The Dyers are accused of neglecting their daughter, who, when she was taken from their home at age seven, couldn't walk, talk or hold up her head, wasn't toilet trained and weighed just 37 pounds. Continue for photos and details from a police report included below.
On October 28 of last year, according to the arrest affidavit for Douglas shared here, officers and health service workers went to the Dyers' home on the 100 block of East Trilby Road after receiving a tip about their daughter, then seven.
The informant told police the girl had been diagnosed with seizures in 2009 but hadn't been back to a doctor over the intervening four years. Moreover, she "could not walk or talk and she was not toilet trained," the report maintains, adding that "the house was described as being very filthy, with cat litter and animal feces everywhere."
Upon their arrival, officers were alarmed enough by the child's condition -- the document says she "had been found lying on the floor in a diaper unable to walk, talk or hold up her head" -- that paramedics were contacted. Good call: Minutes later, she had a seizure and was transported to an area hospital.
Another 7News image of Leah.
Denver Outlaws / Major League Lacrosse All Star Game
TicketsSat., Dec. 29, 6:00pm
In an interview with law enforcers, Douglas told officers that the girl had been prescribed a seizure medication called Lamictal back in 2009. However, the Dyers appear to have blamed her deteriorating condition on the drug and began weaning her off it months earlier.
The girl was subsequently placed in foster care and provided with regular health care, and over the next six months, she's said to have gained 21 pounds and grown more than six inches in height. Moreover, doctors were "unable to find a genetic or a neuro-degenerative disorder" to explain her condition, the report states. Their theory: They felt the mild cerebral and cerebella atrophy they diagnosed "was consistent with a history of untreated seizure disorder, which over time affected her brain growth."
The affidavit notes that during a second interview with the Dyers, conducted this past June, they said they hadn't taken their daughter back to the doctor in four years "because their car was broken and they didn't want to ask help of any family member." In addition, Douglas hinted that the girl's "spells" might have a supernatural element. He's quoted as saying he and Leah "looked into the spiritual realm. but they ran into roadblocks in trying to have their home blessed to get rid of the spirits."
For their part, medical pros concluded that the child's state resulted from "a mixture of medical issues and neglect" in which her nutritional and health-care needs weren't being met -- and if she "wouldn't have been taken out of her home, she could have died."
As a result, the Dyers have now been charged with felony child abuse -- and the media attention the case has attracted clearly frustrates Leah. "You should've gotten my story before you aired it," she told reporters, including journalists from the Fort Collins Coloradoan with whom she'd apparently declined to speak days earlier.
The paper notes that Leah is due back in court on Thursday, while Douglas is on the docket for September 4. Meanwhile, their daughter, now eight, is said to be growing bigger and stronger despite her significant challenges.
Look below to see booking photos for Leah and Douglas, followed by the arrest affidavit.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Denver, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.