Shanda Vander Ark Son, Husband, Fast Facts

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The Michigan woman convicted of fatally starving her disabled teenager suffered a violent bout of vomiting on the stand when shown pictures of his emaciated body just hours before his death.

Shanda Vander Ark, aged 44 as of 2023, claimed she gave her 15-year-old son, Timothy Ferguson, a warm bath, a detail disputed by her older son, shortly before he was discovered dead in July 2022 in the confined closet where she made him sleep, wrapped only in a tarp.

The autopsy revealed that the 15-year-old, weighing a mere 69 pounds, succumbed to malnourishment and hypothermia.

During questioning by prosecutor Matt Roberts, Vander Ark confirmed that she personally bathed Timothy and was confronted with pictures of his bruised and severely wasted body.

Upon seeing the images, Vander Ark immediately raised a hand to her mouth, gagged, and proceeded to vomit profusely into a garbage can beneath the stand.

Apologizing before being overwhelmed by another round of sickness, she eventually broke into sobbing, prompting the judge to clear the courtroom.

Vander Ark, still unwell, did not return to court when the jury later returned a guilty verdict of murder and child abuse.

The jury took just over an hour to deliberate, and Vander Ark is set to face mandatory life in prison, with sentencing scheduled for January 29, 2024.

Prosecutor Matt Roberts asserted that she killed her son by starving him to death.

Vander Ark’s attorney, Fred Johnson, argued that she did not comprehend the harm she caused and was unaware of her son’s starvation.

Contradicting Johnson’s claims, text messages and admissions from Timothy’s elder brother contradicted Vander Ark’s testimony about giving the boy a warm bath the night he died.

Paul Ferguson, 20, Timothy’s elder brother, allegedly revealed that he had given Timothy an ice bath that day, as instructed by his mother.

Vander Ark force-fed her son hot sauce and subjected him to various forms of abuse, including shackles, zip ties, and sleep deprivation.

She instructed Paul to taunt his younger brother with a frozen pizza roll and pour hot sauce on his genitals, although the latter was refused.

Despite resisting some of her demands, Paul Ferguson admitted to carrying out many of his mother’s deranged orders during his testimony against her.

Describing his actions as akin to Stockholm Syndrome, he expressed a desire to find a role model and make them proud due to his low self-esteem.

The jury in Muskegon County Circuit Court found Shanda Vander Ark guilty of murder and child abuse in the death of her disabled 15-year-old son.

Timothy Ferguson, who weighed only 69 pounds, died from malnourishment and hypothermia, determined as a homicide by the medical examiner.

Vander Ark’s absence, due to illness, did not deter the jury from reaching a swift guilty verdict.

The defense, led by attorney Fred Johnson, maintained that Vander Ark did not understand the harm she caused and was unaware of her son’s dire condition.

Deputy prosecutor Matt Roberts countered this, stating that she tortured her son through various means, including hot sauce, ice baths, sleep deprivation, and restricting access to food.

Roberts emphatically asserted, “She killed him. She starved him to death.”

Timothy Ferguson, who faced mental disabilities, was being home-schooled, and prosecutors contend he suffered ongoing abuse.

The autopsy findings, combined with the testimonies of family members, painted a harrowing picture of the abuse suffered by the 15-year-old.

Shanda Vander Ark, facing a mandatory life sentence, awaits sentencing on January 29 for the murder and child abuse of Timothy Ferguson.

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In court, a Michigan law clerk, Shanda Vander Ark, experienced a bout of vomiting when confronted with distressing images of her emaciated disabled son, whom she allegedly starved to death.

Shanda Vander Ark, 44 as of 2023, was facing charges of murder and torture in the death of her 15-year-old son, Timothy Ferguson, who passed away on July 6, 2022, weighing only 69 pounds, with the cause determined as malnourishment and hypothermia.

Prosecutor Matt Roberts displayed pictures of Timothy’s frail body in court, prompting Vander Ark to vomit.

The prosecution argued that Vander Ark subjected Timothy, who had autism with speech and motor impairment, to cruel punishments, including feeding him only bread covered in hot sauce, depriving him of sleep, and forcing him into punishing ice baths.

Despite Vander Ark’s absence from the trial on Friday due to a ‘medical issue,’ the jury found her guilty of first-degree murder and first-degree child abuse, and she awaits sentencing on January 29, facing life imprisonment.

Motion sensors, alarms, and live feed cameras were allegedly set up by Vander Ark to cover her house and the tiny closet where Timothy slept.

During her testimony on Thursday, Vander Ark exhibited signs of a mental breakdown, hyperventilating, and vomiting when shown pictures of Timothy’s emaciated body.

Apologizing to the court, she asked for a moment, started to cry, and did not return for the remainder of the trial.

Vander Ark’s older son, Paul, also charged with first-degree child abuse, testified against his mother and described his actions as a form of Stockholm Syndrome driven by a desire for a positive role model.

Vander Ark claimed to have purchased spicy hot sauce online following Paul’s suggestion as a means of punishment for Timothy.

A text message exchange revealed discussions about pouring hot sauce on Timothy’s genitals, reflecting Vander Ark’s questionable judgment.

Her lawyer argued that she did not comprehend the harm caused to her son and was unaware of his starvation, justifying the lockdown of the family’s fridge, freezer, and pantry.

The defense emphasized Vander Ark’s lack of understanding and her efforts to prevent Timothy from eating frozen food and uncooked meat.

Allegedly, Vander Ark covered her house and Timothy’s sleeping closet with motion sensors, alarms, and live feed cameras.

Prosecutor Roberts insisted that she tortured Timothy through hot sauce feedings and ice bath punishments, asserting, “She killed him. She starved him to death.”

Timothy did not legally have custody of Vander Ark, as per authorities, and an investigation by Oklahoma Child Protective Services between 2009 and 2012 recommended the termination of her parental rights.

Court documents revealed that Timothy, along with his siblings, had been granted to their father, Eric Ferguson, in 2012, with Vander Ark ordered to pay child support.

Remarrying to Adam, Vander Ark was living with him until he suffered a stroke, which she claimed triggered Timothy’s disruptive behavior.

Paul alleged that hours before Timothy’s death, he followed his mother’s instruction to place him in an ice bath for nearly nine hours.

The prosecution argued that Vander Ark should not have had custody of Timothy, given the prior recommendation to terminate her parental rights.

The judge ordered Vander Ark to be held without bond, emphasizing the specific nature of the allegations directed towards a specific group of people.

Vander Ark’s lack of criminal history, ties to the community, and familial connections were presented as reasons to consider her not a flight risk or a threat to others.

Matt Roberts, chief trial attorney, detailed the disturbing punishments inflicted by Vander Ark, labeling the events as “sadistic” and “tragic.”

Despite protests from the defense, the judge ordered Vander Ark’s detention without bond, with a probable cause conference scheduled for July 21.

Shanda Vander Ark, facing life imprisonment, awaits sentencing on January 29, 2024, with her conviction of first-degree murder and first-degree child abuse stemming from the tragic and abusive circumstances surrounding Timothy Ferguson’s death.