Baby-Snatching, Amnesia, And Murder: Inside 11 Bizarre Cases That Unsolved Mysteries Helped Solve

Published June 9, 2022

The Murder Of Ryan Stallings: How Unsolved Mysteries Solved This Genetic Mystery

Ryan Stallings

YouTubeRyan Stallings died at five months old, of what appeared to have been poisoning.

On July 9, 1989, Patricia Stallings rushed her baby son, Ryan, to the hospital. The Missouri mother was worried that her son was getting violently ill with no logical explanation. After doctors ran a series of tests, ethylene glycol — the main ingredient in antifreeze — was found in the baby’s blood.

Suspecting that his mother had poisoned him with antifreeze, the acting pediatrician had Ryan Stallings placed in protective custody, after which he was placed in foster care upon his discharge from the hospital.

But even though baby Ryan was in foster care, Patricia Stallings was still allowed to have supervised visits with her son. On August 31, 1989, Patricia visited baby Ryan and fed him a bottle. Days later, he was rushed to the hospital under suspicion of ethylene glycol poisoning, and Patricia was arrested on assault charges. Then, Ryan died on September 7, 1989.

At the time of her arrest, Patricia was pregnant with her second child. That child — a boy, whom she named David Stallings Jr. after his father — also had large amounts of ethylene glycol in his blood.

Patricia Stallings On Unsolved Mysteries

YouTubePatricia Stallings was initially sentenced to life in prison for murder, before new evidence found her not guilty.

This was curious, as David Stallings Jr. had been placed in protective custody from the day he was born and had no contact with his mother. But it was this curiosity that would ultimately prove to be his mother’s saving grace, according to Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.

On January 31, 1991, Patricia Stallings was convicted of Ryan Stallings’ murder and sentenced to life in prison. But in May of that same year, Unsolved Mysteries aired an episode featuring the curious case of Ryan Stallings, which caught the eye of William Sly, a professor and chairman of the department of biochemistry and molecular biology at St. Louis University.

He later conducted tests on Ryan’s blood and determined that he had suffered from a rare genetic disease known as MMA (methylmalonic acidemia), a disease which also afflicted his surviving brother.

Armed with this new evidence, prosecutor George B. McElroy ordered the court to conduct a new trial, after which Patricia Stallings was found innocent of all charges. Though McElroy personally apologized to the family — and returned David Jr. to their custody — the Stallings later settled a lawsuit against the labs and the hospital for several million dollars.

Bernadette Giacomazzo
Bernadette Giacomazzo is a New York City-based editor, writer, photographer, and publicist whose work has been featured in People, Teen Vogue, BET, HipHopDX, XXL Magazine, The Source, Vibe, The Los Angeles Times, and elsewhere.
Jaclyn Anglis
Jaclyn is the senior managing editor at All That's Interesting. She holds a Master's degree in journalism from the City University of New York and a Bachelor's degree in English writing and history (double major) from DePauw University. She is interested in American history, true crime, modern history, pop culture, and science.
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Giacomazzo, Bernadette. "Baby-Snatching, Amnesia, And Murder: Inside 11 Bizarre Cases That Unsolved Mysteries Helped Solve.", June 9, 2022, Accessed June 22, 2024.