Remembering Reilly

Casey Bowman has been through hell and back.  She lost a baby to SIDS and then watched her beautiful three year old son, Reilly, die of Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia.  After Reilly’s death, Casey became pregnant with twin boys but lost them to a miscarriage.  Her surviving son, Langston, became a selective mute after the death of his brother (except for occasional therapy sessions when he screams out “YOU KILLED HIM!” to his poor mother).  Langston also nearly died from meningitis, a terrible illness that still managed to help him regain his ability to speak.

Yeah, this one is a fake too, and it’s pretty elaborate.

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The day after Reilly died, while still hanging out at the hospital, devastated, Casey decided to begin a blog.

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From there, the blog goes into details about the Bowmans mourning their son, along with his dear friend Kellan who passed away right after Reilly.  Each Bowman struggles with their private grief, and poor Langston is tortured at school by the most evil kindergartner I can ever imagine existing.

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Then, the son of an extremely close friend of the Bowman family also dies of cancer.  His name is Noah, and his parents wrote a blog for him too.  The description of Noah’s death is truly horrible.  He gets a nosebleed, passes out and dies on the way to the hospital.

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One of the reasons many people in our group take issues with fake blogs is that they scare the heck out of real parents of cancer patients.  Imagine someone with a child, newly diagnosed, stumbling on the description of a death of a kid who doesn’t even look sick.  Many of our group members are parents of children who had cancer and one shared with me the agony of googling for details on her son’s disease and reading horror stories about patients who died from it.  The Remembering Reilly blog was one of the top results on Google for “CML in children.”  The incorrect treatment regimen and description of the disease could have been very damaging to parents of real CML patients.

“Casey” also had a blog where she detailed Reilly’s cancer struggles.  Supposedly these were written in a paper journal while Reilly was sick and transferred to a blog after his death.  You can read that here.

A lot of people might dismiss this as a creative writing project, a beautifully written blog that raised awareness for childhood cancer.  Unfortunately, “Casey” also reached out to moms of real life cancer patients and tried to befriend them.


Cindy Campbell is the mom of the beautiful Ty Louis Campbell, a little boy who died of cancer at five years old.  Since Ty’s death, Cindy and the Campbell family have started the Ty Louis Campbell Foundation to raise awareness for childhood cancer and to fund a cure.  She also has The Muddy Puddles Project where parents send in pictures of their kids playing in muddy puddles, an activity Ty loved, as a way of celebrating the joy of childhood.

Casey and Cindy emailed back and forth a few times and Cindy says she fell in love with Reilly and his family.  Cindy asked if she could post a tribute to Reilly on her site and Casey at first agreed and then changed her mind.  Cindy was absolutely devastated to hear that “Remembering Reilly” is a hoax.  The kinship that parents who have walked through these kinds of nightmares feel is a powerful bond, and I am sure Cindy feels betrayed.

The pictures of Reilly and his brother were taken from the blog and website of a professional photographer.  She’s been notified about the situation and is understandably upset.

I’ve heard from the person who is behind this hoax.  She’s a junior in high school and she says she started the blogs after hearing Taylor Swift’s song Ronan.  That’s becoming a common theme with fakers.  Anyway, she’s very remorseful and we’re going to stay in touch.  She is emailing Cindy Campbell an apology and will also apologize to the parents of the real “Reilly.”  We’ve discussed why what she did was harmful and wrong, and I truly believe she is sorry.

We’ve decided not to post her name because of her age.  I’m hoping she takes our offer of help and talks to a professional about her compulsion to write these blogs.

Just for the record, in some articles we’ve seen claims that the person behind this blog raised money or sold t-shirts.  No funds were raised.  The writer did make a t-shirt template and took screen shots of it, but shirts were never actually for sale.

EDIT:  Cindy Campbell, who had some details of the story of her son’s battle with cancer and his tragic death stolen and used as storylines on Remembering Reilly, posted this on her blog.

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Cindy’s spirit of forgiveness has been an inspiration to us.  If any reader is looking to donate to a worthy foundation, The Muddy Puddles Project has stolen our hearts.

24 thoughts on “Remembering Reilly”

  1. I read that blog one night when I couldn’t sleep and I was left with questions but I just thought she had “grief brain” and was being dramatic to get her point across with certain things. I never imagined the entire thing was fake but at this point nothing should surprise me when it comes to lengths these liars will go to too feel important.
    I started reading a few years ago and it does feel like you take the journey with the families in a very tiny, tiny way. Lying to Cindy is so awful. People are pretending to have the worst thing happen to a Mother just to hear how sorry they are for the fakers? To hear that they are strong and tough and can make it through the impossibly hard days from someone who is really fighting that battle? All of these mentally ill, attention starved, personality disorders are taking any power that the song “Ronan” had and throwing it away. The next Mother that reaches out to Cindy Campbell who is actually fighting for the life of their child will be met with disbelief (rightly so) and Cindy will now have to question everyone and everything.
    I hope all these “Ronan” crazied teenagers will stop believing that the only way they can get attention from high profile people is by faking such terrible things. They are hurting every family that has lost a child to cancer and every family trying to raise awareness to cure this disease.

  2. Ugh, this disgusts me more than I know how to explain in words. To make up one journal and say a toddler has died from cancer is one thing, but to have TWO?! Why why why.

    I’ve read both blogs in the past and hated myself for having an odd feeling about them. I found it odd that Reilly never looked sick, Noah didn’t lose any hair, there wasn’t a single hospital photo or a shot of their central lines. I hated myself for thinking they could be fake. What sort of person did that make me? Reading a blog about a two year old child and feeling so damn suspicious? i felt so mad at myself for that. Instead I tried to convince myself that their loving parents didn’t want their children to be remembered looking so hollow. Ugh.

    And if cancer wasn’t enough, she then miscarried twins shortly after Reilly’s death. And if that wasn’t enough, there comes a story about her newborn dying whilst Reilly is having cancer treatment??? Ugh ugh ugh.

    I’m almost certain that this young girl managed to get another grieving mother reading her blog as well as Cindy. Pretty sure I saw a comment from Kerry ( ) on her blog once…

  3. One more thing, I wanted to say thanks to you guys for exposing this. As my previous comment stated, I had suspicions for a little while and, heck, felt tempted to email Nev Schulman of Catfish fame to investigate! But I didn’t want to be the girl who doubted a toddler’s cancer journey. Anyway, I am glad I know the truth now, I only found your website after frantically googling when the WordPress had been deleted.

  4. I liked playing in muddy puddles too when I was five. 🙂 I hope the Campbell family can find some peace after this awful tragedy, and that Ms. Bowman can get some psychological help.

  5. Although I applaud your work in exposing fakes, I must comment that cancer is not pretty. Cancer is not beautiful. Cancer is not glamorous. Cancer is a destructive, horrible, messy, ugly disease that is fatal in over half of the people diagnosed with it.

    When my daughter died of cancer at the age of 10, I googled for what to expect at the end of life, and got some fluff on how my little girl would die peacefully, and just close her eyes and it would be over quickly.

    Not true. I won’t go into the graphic details, but just imagine the opposite of what I just listed, and you have an adequate idea of what she went through at the end of her life.

  6. “Your brother deserved it” doesn’t sound like the kind of thing a 6 year old would say. It doesn’t sound like any of the 6-year-olds I’ve known, anyway.

    1. I know… these hoaxers just put up the most melodramatic things they can possibly think of to shock and endear their readers. Eww.

  7. I have followed Ty since 2011, I have sent Cindy a picture of my boy Scotty dancing in the rain, just with his pants on. She is such a sweet lady, Ty was so, so loved and gorgeous, inside and out. At the moment, Cindy is asking for signs of Ty, for people who have encountered ladybugs and strange occurrences that mean that Ty is around, watching over her. Now that she knows that Faker has approached her, trust has been broken, how will she know if any of the posts are genuine in such time of need? I do admire her for her big heart and ability to forgive so easily. Sweet dreams, Ty, you were a hero.


  8. Hello. A friend told me I should reach out to you as the author of “The Della Deception,” which can be found at Sadly, I’m not surprised by this story, since, after I exposed a man who had deceived our very large online community, I’ve been researching similar events happening all over the Internet.

    I do have one comment though. Something about this being perpetrated by a 17 year old doesn’t make sense to me. I’ve witnessed one case of destructive online emotional deception where an adult, when caught, immediately pretended to be a teenager. I would verify it. I wouldn’t trust anything this person says or claims to have done. Proof or it didn’t happen.

    I’m really sorry this happened to parents who lost a very real, beautiful child. Thank you for your work. The person I’ve exposed has moved on to a new community where he’s pulling more stunts both online and in real life, but I’ve managed to network with some of the locals there to help prevent him from causing more unnecessary misery.

    People who do this sort of thing don’t just stop once they’re caught. They move on to new victims.

    1. Hi X, looking forward to reading your blog! The person behind Remembering Reilly really is seventeen. We did go through steps to verify this. It’s hard to believe because the blog is so well-written, but she is indeed a teenager.

  9. Her posts are clearly lifted from Maya Thompson’s (Ronan’s mom’s) too, same writing style and a lot of the same topics/themes.

  10. Name and Shame. I am sorry but this girl needs to learn a simple lesson – if you play with real world issues in cyberspace the punishment is real.
    I am not asking her to go to prison. I don’t want her fined – I want what she took, name and shame.

    Until then her sympathy can cry me a river as her crocodile tears are worthless and hold no value.
    Own up to your responsibilities little miss – otherwise when the world catches up with you, the problems will be far more severe.

  11. Would anyone be interested in a case where a woman has 150+ tumblr accounts to comment to herself with and vote herself up with? The tumblr accounts are all blank, some have stolen photos in them. This woman has been doing this for 10 years, since she had a blog on Having all those sock puppets counts as fraud or a hoax, right?

  12. Her writing is very sophisticated for a junior high school student. It wouldn’t surprise me if she was in fact an adult. Has it been confirmed that the hoax writer is in fact that young?

    1. Yes, she’s definitely that young. She’s a very gifted writer. I hope she decides to use that talent in a different way.

  13. I started reading about Reilly upon seeing your posts, so I was already suspicious. But, a few novice (non-Mom) mistakes would have tipped me off, had I gone in blind. These were red flags-beyond the angst-ridden melodrama of the entire saga.
    1) The top/banner photo of, (I’m assuming), Reilly, looks like an older child, not a 3 yo, with deep brown eyes. Another post has a pic of ‘infant (9-12 month old) Reilly’ & *that*’ ‘Reilly’ has very big, beautiful, blue-grey eyes-not temp ‘baby blues’- permanently blue-grey eyes. Odd.
    2) Casey describes Reilly’s speech as baby-like, he says things like, “I uv oo”….yet, before dying, he can, not only come up with a new favorite colo, weekly, (including grey! How many toddlers say ‘grey’ is their fave color?!), but can also transmit deep thoughts as to why..,ex: red was a fave, because of the deep/fierce/strong (or something) love of his parents. (this also came straight off a Taylor Swift song, lol)
    3) Poor *soap opera named-‘oldest child’*…he ends up on death’s door with Bacterial Menengitis. Suffering for “3-4 DAYS!” before being seen by a doctor! Mom beats herself up up, blaming herself for missing his symptoms, which included: ‘spiking a fever of 102°+ for DAYS, vomiting, and…. the cherry…..drifting IN & OUT OF CONCIOUSNESS’. She claims that extreme grief for the 3 others & ‘the flu’ had overtaken both parents to the point that they didn’t catch the fact that…..ummm…their ONE surviving child,….1 of 4 that hasn’t suffered a sudden & devastating death from a suprise/shocking ILLNESS or health prob….is, literally, deathly ill. They missed this even as Mom already berates herself for temporarily ignoring some excessive bruising that appeared on Reilly (a fairly common luekemia symptom). Ok, my one DD, thanks to God & knock on wood, has not had anything more than a staph infection. I’ve never dealt with the death or serious illness (knock on wood)..of one, much less 3 kids. I’m guessing that if I *had*, God Forbid-lived through that……I’d be monitoring remaining child’s health like a hawk does a field mouse during a long, hard Winter. That child would not sneeze at the sunlight without 911 being called….much less suffer 103 degree fevers, vomiting & loss of consciousness for DAYS before I thought that *maybe* just *possibly* they should be seen by a medical professional. That was a solid give-away that the author was 1) lying & 2) had never cared for a hamster, much less given birth to, then lost, 3 out of 4 kids. Lastly, even in this day of Photoshop, ALL the pictures looked professional, even the ‘candid’ ones, with ‘Reilly’ looking different every time. Sorry for rant, this one just really bothered me.

  14. I don’t fully get this hoax. I was diagnosed with CML at age 52. There are medications available that cause complete remission of the disease. One is called Gleevec. I have been taking it for 5 years and have been in complete remission (as have high-profile celebs Ryan O’Neal and Kareem Abdul Jabar). If a patient is not responsive to Gleevec, there are other pharmaceuticals with a high success rate. Maybe it’s different with children?

  15. After reading her first few blog entries, I gotta say I’m glad she was a fake – otherwise, she’d be a horrible, emotionally abusive mother and person in general. Guilt-tripping a dying child by saying she’ll never be happy again without him to his face? Stifling rage because her surviving son wants the same cake his dead brother liked? Slapping someone because they offered the phrase “He’s in a better place?”

    And this is just in the first two entries.

    SO glad she’d just the creation of an overactive child’s brain.

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