CASPER, Wyo. — A legal battle over a felony fraud charge appears likely for Krishelle Layton, the mother of a young boy with a tumor on his brain stem who first made local news at Christmas, when he delivered gifts to sick children at the Wyoming Medical Center.
Dorian Layton, 6, does have a tumor on his brain — “a low-grade glioma,” according to the investigator who outlined the basis for his mother’s arrest Tuesday.
But Dorian is not as sick as his mother has been telling people, according to that investigator, and she has been misleading people into thinking he is on “death’s door” in order to defraud the community to the tune of about $7,000.
Layton was formally charged with felony fraud Wednesday afternoon in Natrona County Circuit Court and held on $2,000 bond. She was arrested Tuesday by the Department of Criminal Investigation after an investigation that court documents reveal spanned back to February.
From those documents, it is not immediately apparent what caused DCI to look into the family, but the affidavit does state that the organization began investigating the Laytons after receiving a tip from the Casper Police Department about potential fraud.
The affidavit also states that the Laytons had been staying with former police Chief Chris Walsh about that time, and that the family had packed and left “in the middle of night” after Walsh questioned “certain things Krishelle Layton was doing” in her care of Dorian. That alleged overnight flight was about Feb. 14, and the investigation opened Feb. 20.
In terms of alleged fraud, the DCI claims that Layton misled people and organizations, including the Casper Star-Tribune, about Dorian’s condition.
In December, when the Star-Tribune first covered an event featuring Dorian, Layton told the paper that Dorian had begun experiencing long-term memory loss along with other apparent symptoms of worsening brain cancer.
“It’s kind of like a brain tumor is always a ticking time bomb,” she said at the time. “And it just does what it wants, when it wants, and you just deal with it. So as far as that goes, we’ve learned to take it day by day.”
At the time, she also said she had taken the family — herself, Dorian, another young son and a young daughter — to Casper because her doctor had told him to take him home and allow him to be happy and comfortable.
That article revolved around Dorian delivering Christmas gifts to sick children at the Wyoming Medical Center.
Later, in January, Dorian was named the Casper police chief for a day. At that time, police advertised the event as fulfilling a wish for a child with terminal brain cancer.
According to court records, however, the doctor who had been treating Dorian’s tumor in Texas said the tumor was not growing and that other than “monitoring,” he could have a normal childhood. He would just need a scan once a year to ensure the tumor was not growing, the doctor allegedly told DCI investigator Tina Trimble.
The doctor also reportedly said he did not advise Layton to make death preparations for Dorian.
The felony fraud charge stems from the benefits the family received by putting on the alleged facade that Dorian was very near death.
Most notably, DCI claims the family told a manager at the Black and Gold Grille in Casper that he would likely not survive until his April birthday, and so the restaurant held an early birthday party for Dorian in February. Between donations collected and the expenses of the party, DCI claims that Layton defrauded more than $2,500 from the bar and those who donated.
The police report also cites an online donation website as evidence of the fraud, claiming the less than $2,000 collected on that site was obtained under false pretenses.
In court Wednesday, Layton appeared wearing a blue Natrona County Detention Center jumpsuit and was accompanied by an attorney.
The attorney argued that Layton was destitute and could not afford a $5,000 bond recommended by the prosecution.
The bond was set at $2,000. Unless Layton bonds out of jail, she will have a preliminary hearing within 10 days where she will have the chance to hear the evidence being presented against her.
In court, Assistant District Attorney Trevor Schenk said the children have been in the custody of Layton’s sister since February. In that time, the police report states, “none of the various medical symptoms that (Layton) complained about with (her son) have been observed to be ongoing.”
When reached for comment, Carolyn Hackworth, Layton’s mother, declined to talk about the case.