Not Fraud

Fundraising Efforts for Toddler Murdered by Her Dad Reveal the Dark Side of Crowdfunding

Little Maddox Mary Lawrence, who “was was born healthy and full of energy” according to her aunt, didn’t exactly have the easiest start in life. Before she was even a year old, she was diagnosed with retinoblastoma or cancer of the eye.

For months, her young parents Ryan and Morgan made the 4+ hour trip from Syracuse to New York City for Maddox’s treatments at Sloan Kettering, all while scraping together a living through various retail jobs. Things weren’t easy for the family and their baby girl, but by all appearances they were doing the very best they could to make the most of the circumstances they were given.

That is until February of this year when Ryan dropped the family car off in the parking lot of his wife’s job and disappeared with little Maddox.

Marnie Eisenstadt writes for

The police put out an Amber Alert for Ryan and Maddox Lawrence the next morning, Feb. 21. Later that day, Morgan Lawrence made a plea through the media.

She looked out at a sea of television cameras and squinted into the light, holding the sides of the podium as if it was holding her up. The 23-year-old’s parents stood a few feet away, flanked by police officers.

“If you’re listening, please just bring Maddox home. Maddox I love you, honey,” Lawrence said through tears. “Ryan, please, just please call. We just want to know that the both of you are safe.”

Morgan would never see Maddox again. By the time she made that impassioned plea to faceless TV cameras, her daughter was already dead. Authorities would recover the toddler’s body 3 days after she disappeared, assisted by her father Ryan, who it is believed killed, burned, and disposed of his daughter’s body in Onondaga Creek before the search for her even began.

One cannot even begin to understand what Morgan Lawrence is going through. The last thing she and her family should even have to think about is shady fundraisers and concern trolls popping up on the family’s legitimate GoFundMe page but that’s exactly what has happened.

Any time a story is widely publicized — such as a car wreck or, in this case, a missing toddler — you can bet opportunists will comb news pages for photos and start up a handful of fake GoFundMe pages. This case was no different but thankfully, any fake, unverified fundraisers have since been removed.

On the only fundraiser endorsed by the family — which has raised $35,030 so far — concern trolls are coming out of the woodwork suggesting that the young mother doesn’t need money since the state pays to bury victims of crime. And? While many of the most negative comments have been deleted, it’s clear that the fundraiser comment section was hit by a drive-by shooting of internet ire. Here are a few gems still remaining:

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 11.32.13 PM

Gee, what a delightful person you are, making it seem as though the grieving mother is treating her daughter’s murder like a lottery ticket. Surely she didn’t ask for this. I despise greedy assholes on GoFundMe as much as the next person but let’s have a little perspective here, you stupid insensitive twit.


Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 11.30.38 PM

Oh, Pat. Where do I even start with you? I’m not sure how you can manage to be jealous of a mother who just lost her daughter at the hands of her husband but doggone you managed to do it! *starts the slow clap*

This entire situation is tragic, including how internet strangers feel it is their place to say how a grieving mother should spend money given to her to bury her daughter and rebuild her life. It’s pretty sick, and I hope for her sake Morgan isn’t reading any of these comments.

Run free, little Maddox, and here’s hoping Morgan finds the strength to pick up the pieces and put her life back together one broken piece at a time.