Patty Stallings is finally released after being sentenced to life for the murder of her two boys.
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:
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:
That same day, the police were brought in to investigate. According to Patty, detectives interviewed her husband in a separate room:
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:
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:
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:
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.
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:
While prosecutors evaluated the medical evidence, Patty Stallings was released from jail. However, Patty was still denied visitation rights with her new born son:
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:
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:
According to George McElroy, Patty was alone with David anywhere from three minutes to eight minutes:
However, David Stallings disagreed that his wife fed their newborn son while she was alone:
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:
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.