Toddler Survives Cancer, Father Kills Her for Receiving Too Much Attention

On Saturday, 25-year-old Ryan Lawrence pleaded guilty to murdering his 21-month-old daughter. He indicated to authorities that he was envious of the attention she received after surviving eye cancer.


According to Metro, Maddox Lawrence’s body was found on February 21 of this year, 36 hours after she had been reported missing from her home in upstate New York. Killed at the hands of her father, she had been beaten to death with a wooden baseball bat. Lawrence then burned Maddox’s body and, after tying her to cinder blocks, concealed the crime by dropping her in a nearby creek.

On the day of the murder, Maddox’s mother, Morgan Lawrence, found a note suggesting that Ryan was a danger to their daughter and to himself. She notified the police and, before too long, they located Ryan in Baldwinsville.

He confessed quickly, and brought the police to the Onondaga harbor where Maddox’s remains lay.

Bill Fitzpatrick, Onondaga County District Attorney, explained to CBS 5 News that “[Lawrence’s] statements allude to almost a sense of jealousy about the attention that this child was getting as opposed to the attention that he was getting.”

The Independent notes that Maddox’s treatment, while successful, demanded significant time and expense. Authorities surmise that Lawrence’s jealousy over these circumstances contributed to his decision to carry out this unspeakable brutality.

Initially accused of second degree murder, the charge has been adjusted to murder in the first degree. Lawrence underwent a mental investigation that demonstrated his fitness to stand trial. He will serve at least 25 years in prison and will be sentenced in October.


Morgan Lawrence and the rest of Maddox’s family intend to memorialize the site where her body was found. Others have already begun the process informally, leaving candles and stuffed animals on the banks of the creek.


Bilbo Waggins

Morgan, the mother, is a friend of a friend. I didn’t really know Maddox or the father, but my friend was very close to them. I remember her sharing pictures of when Maddox was born, her creating a gofundme page to raise money for Maddox’s cancer treatments.

I was so devastated when all of this happened. From my window into their life before the tragedy, they seemed like a fairly normal, if overwhelmed, family. They got married and had Maddox when they were very young, and I know they were working retail and delivery jobs, barely making ends meet. They were stressed out, but they were getting Maddox the best possible care and doing whatever they had to to make ends meet.

I just can’t imagine how Morgan must be feeling right now. The article doesn’t make it clear, this wasn’t some estranged father who kidnapped the daughter. This was Morgan’s husband, and he was very involved in Maddox’s care, taking her to work with him and everything. I guess he had a history of depression, but appeared to be a loving father with no sign he was capable of this. The mother lost both her daughter and her husband in the worst possible way.

At the time, I was working as a nanny to a girl about maddox’s age, and I found myself terrified that somehow, with my history of depression, I could be capable of harming a child. If this seemingly normal person was capable such a horrible thing, does that mean that anyone, if under enough stress, could do that? I don’t know. I hope not. It’s easier to think this guy was just a monster and that I don’t know any monsters.