She Vomited in Court When Shown Photos of Son She Starved and Tortured. Weeks Later, She Got Life in Prison

Shanda Vander Ark was found guilty of murder in the starvation death of her 15-year-old son

<p>COURT TV/Youtube</p> Shanda Van Der Ark

COURT TV/Youtube

Shanda Van Der Ark

A Michigan woman who vomited on the stand during her murder trial has been sentenced to life in prison for starving her son to death.

Shanda Vander Ark had been accused of abusing her son, Timothy Ferguson, 15, who died in July 2022, weighing just 69 pounds, showing signs of malnutrition and hypothermia, WZZM reported, citing law enforcement.

Vander Ark was convicted of murder in December, according to online court records, and on Tuesday she was handed a life sentence.

“You intentionally and systematically tortured this child,” Judge Matthew Kacel said during the sentencing, reported WOOD. “Let’s call it what it is. It’s torture. You tortured this child.”

Related: Mich. Mom Who Starved 15-Year-Old Son to Death Vomits on Stand When Shown Photos of Boy, Who Weighed 69 lbs.

In addition to her murder sentence, Vander Ark also received a 50-to-100-year sentence for child abuse, according to court records.

During Vander Ark’s trial, she testified and was shown pictures of Timothy’s body. In a video posted on Court TV, Vander Ark is shown ducking below the stand as she appeared to vomit several times in response to the pictures.

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CBS News reported, citing prosecutors, that Vander Ark was accused of feeding Timothy hot sauce, putting him in ice baths and depriving him of refrigerator and cabinet access.

If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

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