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Patty Stallings is finally released after being sentenced to life for the murder of her two boys.

Patty Stallings

Patty was arrested and sent to jail

CASE DETAILS

On July 9, 1989, in St. Louis, Missouri, a young mother rushed her critically ill baby to the hospital.  The baby was three-month-old Ryan Stallings.  Since birth, Ryan had suffered from chronic gastric distress.  On the day Ryan was brought to the emergency room, his breathing had become labored and he was vomiting uncontrollably.  According to his father David, Ryan was immediately placed in the pediatric intensive care unit:

“It was just a shock to see a little baby incapacitated the way he was. It was to the point where they said, well, they don’t know how long he’s going to be here.  We don’t know what’s wrong with him yet.  So you may as well just go to the waiting room and stay out there until we can tell you what’s wrong.”

Did she poison her children?

David and Patty Stallings rented a hospital room to be near their son.  After three agonizing days, the Stallings learned that Ryan would recover. The diagnosis, however, was shocking.  Ryan had been poisoned. Patty Stallings was annoyed that authorities immediately considered her a suspect:

“They were very polite, yet suspicious. They would not allow us to see Ryan alone. There would have to be two nurses or a doctor present. We were never allowed at his bedside alone. That bothered me, but I still didn’t understand. Because I wasn’t looking at it the way they were, I guess.”

Patty was finally released

That same day, the police were brought in to investigate. According to Patty, detectives interviewed her husband in a separate room:

“We were split up and talked to by detectives. They immediately started asking me, ‘Is there a problem at home? Are you and David fighting?’ They were saying that they knew that that baby had been poisoned by either me or my husband. It infuriated me, and I was just… I was devastated. I was blown away… Ryan was my world… He was perfect.”

Ryan’s condition improved.  After twelve days, he was released from the hospital, but not to the custody of his parents.  Patty and David’s contact with Ryan was severely restricted.  According to Patty, they were allowed only a one-hour visit each week on Thursdays:

“I just could not wait till Thursday. I would tell everybody over and over and over how last Thursday went. That was my life…”

The parental visits continued for five weeks.  During the sixth visit, Patty was left alone with Ryan a short time.  Three days later, Ryan suffered another severe attack of vomiting.  Once again, he was rushed to the hospital.  Once again, the diagnosis was poisoning.  Authorities came to Patty’s house with an arrest warrant:

“We were getting out of the car, and they said, ‘Stop right there.’ I turned around, and I was, like, ‘Come on into the house.’ They said, ‘You’re not allowed to go into the house.’ They immediately slapped handcuffs on me and said, ‘You’re under arrest for assault.’”

Ryan Stallings

Patty Stallings was arrested and charged with assault.  While Patty languished in jail, her son was dying.  Ryan was placed on life support systems.  David Stallings found himself trapped in a private hell:

“The doctors come up and tell me that they have a feeling that Ryan’s not going to make it and that maybe I should contact a minister and have him baptized. I tried to get Patty up there and all I got from the judge was, ‘No, absolutely not. I’m not going to let a baby-killer up there.’ I said, ‘This lady did not kill this baby.’ When they finally came back to me and told me that ‘We need to know if we can turn him off,’ I told them, ‘Go ahead and shut the machine down.’  But I wanted to be in there with him.  So for three hours, I sat there with him in my arms, knowing that Patty couldn’t be there, watching this meter on this machine go down each time his heart would beat.”

On September 7, 1989, Ryan Stallings died.  He was not yet six months old.  His mother, Patty, was now charged with first-degree murder and held without bail.  She was not allowed to attend Ryan’s funeral.  A few weeks later, Patty discovered she was pregnant again.  Six months later, David Stallings Jr. was born.  Even though David Sr. was not a suspect, he was not allowed to take his son home.  The baby was placed in foster care.  Ironically, this devastating blow would turn out to be a stroke of good luck.  Without it, Patty and David Stallings might have been accused of poisoning their second son.

Patty & David Stallings with their son David

When David Stallings Jr. was two weeks old, he began to exhibit symptoms identical to the ones that had plagued his brother Ryan.  This time, the diagnosis was different.  David Jr. had a rare genetic disorder, MMA, in which the body produces chemical by-products that are similar to the chemicals found in antifreeze.  Unsolved Mysteries contacted an independent medical expert about MMA:

“It would be very simple to confuse the diagnosis of MMA with multiple poisonings because the symptoms are very similar. But more importantly than that, MMA and other similar disorders are very rare, and the majority of doctors either will never have seen a case, or if they have seen a case, didn’t know that they saw it, and actually confused it.”

While prosecutors evaluated the medical evidence, Patty Stallings was released from jail.  However, Patty was still denied visitation rights with her new born son:

“I thought it was over, as far as the nightmare of being accused of hurting Ryan. I was positive because even my lawyer said it was over. There was no way that they could not see the truth right in front of their eyes.”

Ryan passed away

Yet local officials continued to pursue Ryan’s case.  Their position was that Ryan Stallings had not died from MMA.  In the judge’s chambers, they cited four expert witnesses.  The judge refused to allow the diagnosis of David Jr. presented to the jury.  George McElroy was the prosecuting attorney on the case:

“We were concerned that if it came out that David Jr., or Ryan for that matter, had this methylmalonic acidosis, unless it could be shown that he actually died of that or it was some kind of a contributing factor to his death, we believe that that would not be relevant and in fact might cause the jury to go off on a wild goose chase and make a decision based on something that’s really not relevant.”

The Stallings received custody of David

Without the medical testimony, the case against Patty seemed airtight.  The prosecution focused on the events of Thursday, August 31, 1989, Patty and David’s sixth parental visits with Ryan. It was on that visit that David’s parents were invited for the first time:

“About twenty minutes into the visit, my mom and dad decided to leave. Patty and I had the rest of the time with him. I escorted my mom and dad out and walked down to the hall. I was out of the room no more than forty-five seconds at the most.”

According to George McElroy, Patty was alone with David anywhere from three minutes to eight minutes:

“During that time she did actually feed the child a bottle. The child again got the same symptoms it had before, came back into the hospital, was diagnosed with ethylene glycol poisoning.  But the state believes, and certainly circumstantial evidence suggests, that she slipped ethylene glycol, or antifreeze, into the bottle during that feeding.”

The prosecution believed Patty poisoned her baby

However, David Stallings disagreed that his wife fed their newborn son while she was alone:

“That’s incorrect. What happened was, I walked back to the cubbyhole where Patty was with Ryan. He started getting a little cranky, so I reached into the bag, took the bottle out, and started feeding him. I saw the bottle… I did not see any discoloration in the bottle whatsoever. There was nothing done to that bottle. Absolutely nothing.”

They were allowed supervised visits

But the jury sided with the prosecution and on March 4, 1991, Patty Stallings was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.  Each visit with her son was limited to one hour.  David Stallings Sr. was allowed to see his son once a week:

“I cannot see how they can live with themselves, knowing that they sent an innocent woman to jail for the rest of her life for something that she didn’t do. If Ryan would have been correctly diagnosed with MMA, none of this would have happened. None of these series of events in the last two years would have happened. It all depended on whether he was correctly diagnosed, which he was not.”

Update:

Shortly after this story aired, doctors from all over the county called to say there were familiar with MMA.  Dr. Piero Rinaldo, a renowned scientist from Yale University, even performed tests that confirmed MMA was the cause of Ryan’s death.  Consequently, the prosecuting attorney dropped all charges against Patty Stallings.  David Stallings Jr. was finally allowed to come home.


Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season three with Robert Stack and in season four with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.

 

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44 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    I played David Stallings in the television story, To hear the father tell the story in a closed pre shoot environment was extremely difficult to bare. Highly emotional. I sincerely hope the scars are or have healed.

    Reply

  2. Stacy

    Okay. The substance in the bottle was created from the saliva of Ryan. No one killed him. The doctors misdiagnosed then mistreated and it lead to his death but it was a rare condition. It was not intentional misconduct. The prosecutor was looking at the evidence he had them actively persued MMA after David was diagnosed and was told that mma contributed to his death but tgat poison was also a factor so he moved forward on the case. As soon as the case was aired on tv and doctors familiar with mma contacted the da, he looked into it and requested conviction overturned and immediate release. There was no misconduct by law enforcement or government offices. Even the lab didn’t doo anything wrong intentionally. It is a sad case all around and i hope that it continues to help teach future lawyers, doctors chips and technitions to tread lightly and fight to turn over every stone in all cases.

    Reply

    • Veritas1919

      There was misconduct. No expert decided that ethylene glycol was also used. The DA decided that it was. His an opinion based on conjecture, not fact. An expert told the DA before trial it was most likely MMA. The DA still had access to Ryan’s blood and could have tested for MMA, but chose not to do so. The notes from the MD that pronounced Ryan dead suggested in his notes it could be MMA. The second child had MMA. Before trial, an expert said it was most likely MMA, but the DA got this evidence excluded. Any exculpatory evidence for the defendant is supposed to be allowed at trial. It wasn’t until UM aired and more experts called in that Ryan’s blood was tested. The Judge and the DA ignored the evidence and intentionally allowed exculpatory evidence to be withheld at trial. The DA, Judge and the Stallings attorney should be prosecuted for misconduct or at the least tried for ethics violations.

      Reply

  3. Anonymous

    Patty donated $10,000 to McElroy’s opponent when he ran for reelection. He lost!

    Reply

  4. Anonymous

    Like Patty, I was innocent but charged with a crime in St. Louis. After two trials with hung juries, charges were dropped. I later learned the Prosecutor had been blackmailed into ruining my family and business. I lost everything due to negative publicity and legal fees. However, I was able to expose the corrupt St. Louis Prosecutor and I made an award-winning movie about the whole story. http://www.Beholder.com

    The movie is on YouTube as well as NetFlix and Amazon.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXF7Y-DEN7s

    I would like to contact Patty about making a movie about her ordeal. My contact info is:

    ken@rivercityent.com 818-905-4684

    Reply

    • Anonymous

      That movie has nothing to do with what happened to Patty. I tried watching the movie on site you had…..boring!!!!

      Reply

      • libby2140

        do you know how to read,,, they said that movie was about THEIR own story and they want to make a movie about what happened to Patty and her family

        Reply

  5. Anonymous

    I actually know Patty, she was very close friends with my older sister. Patty, her mom and sister lived across the street from us for years. When this had happened my sister and Patty werent close but still in touch. I never for a second thought she was capably of this. She was always great with me and my nephew and I kept a tabs on her case throughout the whole thing. Horrible that the system failed her in such major way. Hopefully this case has helped someone else from going through this

    Reply

  6. Anonymous

    If I were the Stallings, I would definitely sue both the state of Missouri and the prosecutor’s office. I guarantee!!

    Reply

  7. Sadly

    The prosecuting attorney in this situation (George McElroy) was absolute filth, a sad excuse for a human being. He KNEW about the MMA diagnosis and still charged Patty after the fact and refused to allow that evidence to be admitted into the trial where she received life in prison. He literally allowed an innocent women to go to prison after losing her first child and tried to convince the world she had murdered that child.
    What kind of horrible person would do that? Then he played all surprised after throngs of doctors came forward to defend her and the subsequent tests PROVED that the infant died of MMA rather than poisoning.
    George McElroy Represents everything wrong with this world and our justice system. It was all about winning cases and never about the truth or justice.
    It was person for him in that he was trying to further his career by framing an innocent mother as a murderer of her own child. Absolutely deplorable and unthinkable to anyone with ethics, which he lacked.
    I saw where Patty did eventually challenged to get him out of office and raised money for the challenger but I do not know how that turned out way back when.

    I am curious as to what happened to Mr. McElroy. I can only hope he was disbarred from ever practicing law again. He knowingly tried to ruin someone’s life despite the evidence and I imagine karma came back to him in subsequent years. I know this was a long time ago now but a situation like this is unforgivable. Bottom line/ had unsolved mysteries not done the show they did on the case, Patry would still be in prison, still be innocent and mr. McElroy would be to blame. She was freed DESPITE his attempt to ruin her life and place her child’s death on her hands.
    Unthinkable. Totally unfathomable. Again, everything that is bad about our justice system, selfish, self-serving prosecuting attorneys trying to imprison innocent people for the sake of saying ‘I won a murder conviction and my record is more important than your life, your reputation, actual justice and truth.’

    Reply

    • Veritas1919

      McElroy lost that election. He attempted to show Patty’s records to the new DA that beat him. In return the new DA had most of the criminal record against Patty expunged.

      Reply

  8. jeanne albin

    I hope they sued all involved, this is terrible

    Reply

  9. Jj

    Would like to know if they are all ok now….and if any compensation was given to them…after all she was denied being with her son when he died………

    Reply

    • Ivy

      Yes they ended up getting millions from the hospital and county, etc. but how on earth could that “fix” a loss that huge…they basically killed her child (the treatment given based on the incorrect poisoning diagnosis caused his death) and then blamed her for it. Ugh

      Reply

  10. Dot

    Sadly David Stallings passed away in 2013 he was a neighbor of mine and I can tell you he had a very sad life. Patty Stallings seem to suffer a nervous breakdown after she was let out of prison ( bought a different color Corvette for every day of the week among other things )and went on to marry another man and had another family and left David with his father and his father’s new family
    Who didn’t seem to have the time or the coping mechanisms to help David in any meaningful way he was in and out of psychiatric centers and from what I could see had a very lonely life. I never saw his family visit him at home or when he had to go to the hospital which was pretty regularly . His Facebook page remains untouched after his death and his obituary is so sad

    Reply

    • Laura

      That is heartbreaking – so many lives ruined by errors, carelessness, ignorance, and outright negligence. I understand why Patty would have difficulties after her long and sad ordeal, but she had a child who needed her, to a greater extent than most kids that age. She should have done whatever it took to pull herself together – therapy, taken some time away to process everything and then return, whatever. She said Buddhism got her through the legal ordeal; she could have gone to a retreat.
      I realize that Patty suffered, as did David Sr. But to me, the most innocent victim (other than Ryan) was David Jr. It sounds like he suffered the most.

      Reply

    • Laura Marie

      What is is name on Facebook where I can find him?

      Reply

    • libby2140

      that would be their son david jr…yes very sad

      Reply

  11. Kim

    I have two children with the same disorder and I almost lost my little girl it took the same hospital a long time to tell me what was wrong and they had us to take her to Scottish right children hospital for test

    Reply

  12. read this post

    after this happened patty left David sr. and D.J. I am upset by this and just ashamed. I know she is inanest for killing but for leaving her family not inanest for everything.

    Reply

  13. Becky Atkinson

    I feel so that Patty had to spend almost two years in prison for a crime she didn’t commit. A crime that never even happened. The poor woman suffered a big loss and couldn’t even go to her babies funeral. If you see this Patty know that some people are sorry and hope you were able to move on. God bless you

    Reply

  14. Richard Diaz

    Patricia loved her first son and he loved her. The truth remains and will remain eternal for her, Ryan, D.J., David Sr and from each one to each other.

    Reply

  15. Anonymous

    I personally knew Patty and all involved. I even babysat DJ. She did receive a large settlement in 93. Unfortunately she and David divorced after all the trauma. The DA and judge in the case went with what they had evidence of and when the DA had doubts he researched them and eventually released her. Patty was never angry at the justice system for doing their jobs, but she was angry that Ryan died from something that could have been treated. That’s why she didn’t sue the judicial system but the medical system.

    Reply

  16. randy

    Why did the d.e.a not go to jail or something for putting these poor folks thu that.

    Reply

  17. Gildaa

    Did patty stallings ever have a lie detector test?

    Reply

    • susan

      and what would a lie detector test have proven?? they are unreliable and inadmissable in a court of law!!! science prooved she was innocent…. Thank goodness you have nothing to do with upholding the law in any way!!! get some education…. basic education would serve you well 😉

      Reply

  18. critter

    so in other words the state killed an innocent child same on the judge and attorney having there heads up there butts.

    Reply

  19. heather hughes

    patty stallings was a lot of things ,but a murderer she was not. She and her ex husband eretried to parent DJ, but were unable to , as were David and his ex second wife Mary Elizabeth. Sadly DJ had a rough life and passed away on Sept. 15 2013.

    Reply

  20. me

    all because of one man dr. rinaldo? thats all it took…one man…ridiculous. I believe she didnt want to raise a child with MMS so she poisoned him, which after they let her out of jail, she decided to raise the other child david and not poison him, so she wont go back to prison for life. She is guilty.

    Reply

    • critter

      your are a fool and blind by facts she didn’t kill her child her second child was born when she was in jail. and found out he had mma. not sure why it took long for people to get the right story. many people have those things in there homes its not surprise hack we used anti freeze in winter for car.

      Reply

    • Randy

      people like you are the resin they are been so many people die on death row and was innocent!

      Reply

    • Becky Atkinson

      You’re an ignorant woman.it was not one dr. Did you not hear that the switchboard was flooded by calls after the show aired. Doctors from all over the world called. If you are ever falsely accused and imprisoned I hope you have people just as ignorant as you are defending you. The woman spent almost t so years on prison and didn’t get to attend her baby’s funeral for something that did not even happen. Before ypu make stupid statements in the future get facts. You are an idiot.

      Reply

    • GS

      You are seriously one of the most ignorant individuals I have ever come across! Wow, what school system produces someone as ridiculously ignorant!! The show clearly states the Prosecutor was wrong and apologized. Multiple doctors from around the country called to confirm the improper diagnosis yet you think there’s something the mother did!! You deserve to be wrongly accused yourself!! The person who should go to jail is the cop or technician who planted or faked the glycol results from the baby bottle. That’s who should go to jail! This family was so wronged they should have received a settlement from the lovely state of Missouri!! I know I won’t be traveling there again after seeing this episode and there justice system with a judge who should have thrown the case out in the first place. Egos are what got in the way here!! Cops and prosecutors are singularly focused and blind to the truth. You are just an idiot!

      Reply

    • susan

      you are psychoitc

      Reply

    • Ivy

      The children has MMA not MMS (idiot) and it was several men and women (all of whom are much more intelligent than you – not hard) who realized that a mistake had been made and that mistaken diagnosis caused her son’s DEATH. They gave him treatment that killed him because the diagnosis was WRONG! SO SAD!

      Reply

    • Ivy

      You are an idiot

      Reply

    • Jackie D

      I think you are dumb. MMA was what killed Ryan and DJ was also diagnosed with it as well. She did not poison her son!

      Reply

  21. s benner

    WHY was the DA not held reasonable. And tried for false atrest

    Reply