For the past three years, 11-year-old Rylee Abbuhl had been working with a counselor to “process her own death” after being repeatedly told she had an incurable medical condition that could cause her central nervous system to fail.
While grappling with the reality that she could never play college softball for Notre Dame or enter high school, Rylee was also capturing national attention.
Her plight earned her and her mom tickets to Sea World, made her the guest of honor at a Texas A&M softball game, and raised thousands of dollars.
“At this point, the doctors are focused on Rylees quality of life versus quantity of life. To meet Rylee in any setting is to love her, she is a friend to all and her sense of humor will have you laughing until it hurts,” a GoFundMe titled “calling all Rylee’s Warriors” states. “Unfortunately, Rylees health continues to decline and although she continues to fight this courageous fight she not only needs prayers but she needs her mom. Please help show your support.”
But local authorities in Canton, Ohio revealed this week that Rylee is not sick—and her mother, Lindsey Abbuhl, made it all up to fund trips, their house, and other expenses for years.
“There is no evidence to support [the] mother’s claim that Rylee is terminally ill,” says a neglect and abuse complaint, filed in Family Court this week by the Stark County Division of Children Services and obtained by the Canton Repository. The complaint noted that a medical professional reviewed all of Rylee’s medical records and found no illness.
The shock revelation prompted the Stark County Sheriff’s Office to remove Rylee from her mother’s home and open an investigation into allegations Abbuhl used her daughter for personal gain.
After temporarily placing Rylee with a family friend, a Stark County Family Court Judge on Friday placed her with her dad, Jamie Abbuhl, who had been increasingly concerned about his ex-wife’s claims about their daughter. Lindsey Abbuhl, 34, has not been charged with any crime.
“If she needed my heart, I’d give it to her today,” Jamie Abbuhl told the Repository. “As far as her going to die... no.”
Abbuhl did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment on Saturday.
News reports show Rylee received national attention for her illness, including a personalized video message from pro softballers like Sierra Romero. In a March 1 interview with News Talk 1480 WHBC, Abbuhl said that 25 colleges and universities had reached out to Rylee to show their support.
She even threw the first pitch for a Feb. 16 rival game between Walsh University and Malone University after meeting team members and coaches.
The opportunity to pitch—which Rylee told FOX 8 was her “favorite part” of the game—was especially meaningful since she was apparently forced to stop playing last year as her condition supposedly worsened.
“Her doctors were concerned that the sport was a little bit too physical for her with her medical condition. So we had to make the tough decision last year that she was going to walk away and not be able to play anymore,” her mom told FOX 8.
The same day, Abbuhl told the Repository her daughter had “two months” to live, according to the outlet.
Abbuhl often posted on social media about her daughter’s illness—and fundraisers to help cover expenses. In several posts, she mentions hospital stays with Rylee.
“I’m looking for a place for a party, that doesn't have restrictions [on] the amount of people due to covid. We want to make Rylee's birthday party super special this year - and need room to have all of her family, friends, and supporters there,” Abbuhl wrote in a February 28 Facebook post.
About a month later, Abbul posted about a “Rylee Warriors” youth softball “benefit” tournament that took place between April 30 and May 2. “All proceeds will be going to Rylee Abbuhl and her family for medical and living expenses,” the post said.
According to the Repository, the neglect and abuse complaint stated that, despite Abbuhl’s insistence her daughter was sick, Rylee’s counselor found out this year that the girl was healthy.
“[Lindsey Abbuhl] also told the counselor, who is going on maternity leave, that Rylee may not be alive when the counselor returns," the complaint states.
The Repository added that they had received several questions about Rylee’s illness from readers. They asked Abbuhl for the girl’s medical records but were denied. Abbuhl also previously told the Repository that she had former friends who were trying to cast doubt on her daughter’s illness to disparage them.
“She has a whole team of doctors [at Akron Children’s Hospital] working on her,” Abbuhl previously told the outlet, adding that the root of Rylee’s illness was unknown. “That’s sad people have to cause drama. Rylee sits in during her [doctor] appointments; she knows what’s happening to her. So calling me a liar is calling her a liar.”
Abbuhl also detailed Rylee’s illness to News Talk 1480 WHBC, stating that Rylee started having medical issues “four years ago” and began seeing a neurologist two years later to look at her issues “as a whole.” Abbuhl said that after countless MRIs, CT scans, and speed studies, doctors discovered that “Rylee’s central nervous system does not work correctly.”
When authorities confronted Abbuhl on Thursday, she allegedly denied making up her daughter’s medical condition. After that, authorities immediately removed Rylee for her own safety, the Repository reported.
Rylee will now stay with her father until a hearing next month. Lindsey had been awarded sole custody following her 2017 divorce but Stark County Family Court Judge Rosemarie Hall on Friday had to supersede the custody agreement.