PANAMA CITY, Fla (WMBB) — On Friday, one day after Panama City resident Tammi Manning was arrested on three charges of child abuse, next door neighbor Shirley Neer expressed shock of the events that occurred next door.
“I always thought they were honest but evidently they weren’t,” Neer said.
Manning was charged with child abuse by willfull torture in the form of starvation, child abuse by aggravated battery and child abuse resulting from mental injury. Neer had last seen Manning’s granddaughter on Sunday.
Authorities said that Manning starved her granddaughter for eight years, had a feeding tube inserted into her granddaughter and had unnecessary surgeries conducted on the nine year old.
“The reason it’s such a bad form of child abuse is because it’s so difficult to identify,” Dr. Rubina Azam said. “Most parents who come to our office care for our children. They’re very nice, they’re very caring, they’re very protective of their children.”
However, in cases of Munchausen by proxy, it is difficult for doctors to identify unnecessary treatments, Azam said.
“It is very challenging to identify it,” Azam said. “But there are a few points, there are a few things which can point toward this diagnosis. For example if a child is getting sickness, repeated sicknesses or repeated injuries. Or the medical history and the exam is inconsistent. Or the exam is not consistent with the laboratory results.”
Azam said that children could potentially die due to Munchausen by proxy. However, once children are taken out of the custody of an abusive caretaker, it is important to give the abused calories needed, Azam said.
She went on to mention that it can take years to recover from the mental and physical abuse, suffered over years.
“We also need to put (the) child in the long term therapy,” Azam said. “And the longer the abuse was – and I’m calling it abuse because it is an abuse – the longer the abuse was, the longer it’s going to take for the child to recover.”