Shanda Vander Ark vomits when shown pics of son she starved to death


The Michigan woman convicted of starving her disabled teenager to death violently vomited on the stand Friday after being shown pictures of his emaciated body hours before he died.

Shanda Vander Ark, 44, testified that she had given 15-year-old Timothy Ferguson a warm bath — a detail her older son briskly disputed — shortly before he was found dead in July 2022 in the glorified closet she forced him to sleep in, wrapped only in a tarp.

An autopsy determined the teenager — weighing just 69 pounds — died from malnourishment and hypothermia.

Prosecutor Matt Roberts pressed Vander Ark on the details of the alleged bath, confirming that she was the one who placed Timothy inside and washed him herself.

“He look like that when you put him in the bathtub?” Roberts asked after slapping several pictures of Timothy’s bruised and severely wasted body in front of his mother.

Vander Ark immediately raises a hand to her mouth and gags while looking at the photographs before giving in and profusely vomiting into a garbage can beneath the stand.

Shanda Vander Ark was testifying when she vomited in front of the court. Court TV
Vander Ark was arrested in 2022 for the murder and torture of her 15-year-old son Timothy Ferguson. Muskegon County Jail

“I’m sorry,” she begins to say before being overwhelmed with another round of sickness that devolved into sobbing and prompted the judge to clear the courtroom.

Vander Ark was still sick and did not return to the courtroom when the jury returned her guilty verdict of murder and child abuse.

It took the jury just over an hour to deliberate. She faces mandatory life in prison when she is sentenced Jan. 29.

“She killed him. She starved him to death,” Roberts said.

Vander Ark’s disabled son was found dead in a closet she forced him to sleep in, wrapped only in a tarp. Muskegon County Jail

Vander Ark’s attorney, Fred Johnson, argued his client did not grasp the harm she caused her son and did not know he was starving to death.

A series of text messages and admissions from Timothy’s elder brother disputed Johnson’s claims, including her testimony that she gave the boy a warm bath the night he died.

Paul Ferguson, 20, allegedly told investigators he had given Timothy an ice bath that day, leaving him in the tub for at least four hours, because his mother had told him to.

It was revealed during the trial that Vander Ark fed her son hot sauce as food. Muskegon County Jail

The ice baths were one of the teenager’s regular abuses, as well as being fed hot sauce, restrained with shackles and zip ties and being deprived of sleep.

Vander Ark also instructed Paul Ferguson — who faces one count of first-degree child abuse for his alleged hand in the crime — to taunt his younger brother with a frozen pizza roll and to pour hot sauce on his sibling’s genitals.

Though Paul Ferguson refused the latter, he admitted to carrying out many of his mother’s other deranged demands during his testimony against her.

“I’d say it’s something close to Stockholm Syndrome,” he said.

“I desire to find a role model that, due to my own low self-esteem, I would do anything to make them proud of me.”

With Post wires

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