ALTON, Ill. – A shocking police interview reveals the moment when a father learned his teen daughter did not have to die. It’s an unimaginable family secret that Alton, Illinois police are talking about in the hopes it saves another child.
A judge sentenced mother Amber Hampshire to seven years in prison this past May. Hampshire pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter after police found she’d hidden her daughter’s diabetes diagnosis and that it led to her daughter’s death.
Emily Hampshire died in November 2018 from diabetic ketoacidosis. She was 14. Police learned Emily’s mother, Amber, not only knew about her daughter’s diagnosis, but that she also hid it from everyone.
“One crazy dream! This cannot be real,” Emily’s dad, Zachary, moaned when he discovered the news during a videotaped police interview.
Zachary explained that he traveled all the time for his job and wasn’t at the hospital when his daughter had been admitted months before her death.
During the police interview, an officer had asked the father, “Would you have had any inhibitions to giving her the insulin?” Zach responded, “No, no.”
The officer continued, “There wouldn’t have been any reason?” “No, no” Zachary said as the officer continued, “Personal preference or…?” Zachary was more adamant with his response: “No, not at all, No!”
Det. Sgt. Mike O’Neill was in the other room interviewing Amber. While Illinois law prohibits the release of her interview, O’Neill can discuss it.
“Emily needed somebody to be her voice and we had to step in in that role,” he said.
“As the interview progressed and I started to show her more and more information we had obtained at that point, then she would say, ‘Okay, she was diagnosed with diabetes – I just didn’t agree with it.’”
The police report shows the great lengths mom took to hide her daughter’s diabetes diagnosis. Like a school employee interview in which police found the school received a form from the hospital regarding Emily’s diabetes. The form had “an extensive care plan regarding her diagnosis” yet the school employee stated, “Amber said it was a mistake and they mixed up patients.”
After Emily’s death, police also found medical supplies and insulin in the Hampshires’ fridge.
“It was shocking. And just to know that these – what could have prevented this death was right there in the home,” O’Neill said.
Emily’s dad said he had no idea as he told police in the interview.
“I honestly didn’t know there was really something wrong. I did not know that,” he said.
But why did Emily Hampshire die?
“I don’t know if we’ll ever have the answer to that,” O’Neill said. “Whether it’s an embarrassment issue or she didn’t feel that the doctors were 100% accurate, there’s no reason though that I can think of to allow this to happen to a child. You have to step in there. You have to be that strong voice.”
One reason may be exposed in a text message from Emily to a friend. It’s contained in the police report.
Emily, who was the captain of her cheerleading squad, texted four months before she died, “I’m diabetic. That time when I got sick, that was why. But I thought it was embarrassing, and I didn’t know how to handle it.”
She texted that message on July 16, 2018, and asked the friend to keep it a secret.
“I wish she would not have felt that way,” Alton Police Chief Marcos Pulido said. “There’s no doubt this is just a tragic case all around, but you never want a child to feel that way – to be embarrassed.”
Pulido hopes Emily’s voice lives on.
“It definitely exposes something where – somebody else doesn’t have to go through this,” he said. “That’s one of the positive things that you always try to hope for.”
- CHIPS Health & Wellness Center Diabetic Support Group
- JDRF Southern Illinois/St. Louis Area Support Groups
- St. Louis Children’s Hospital Support for Children with Diabetes
- BJC Healthcare diabetes information and help