She couldn't wait to share her news with the doctor: She might have an answer, at last, to her children's suffering.
At loma linda University Medical Center, the Udvardi children's doctors were looking for answers too.
By 2005, the children had had more than 500 doctors' appointments among them, not including sleep studies and numerous other tests. Their medical records filled thick volumes.
The number of illnesses was "alarming," one geneticist later told detectives, adding that she had "never seen four children in the same family so sick."
In time, the doctors were not focusing solely on the children. They were scrutinizing their mother.
Once at the hospital, when Abram threw up after being left alone briefly with his mother, doctors tested him to see if he'd been given the vomit-inducing drug Ipecac, according to medical records. Another time the boys were screened for opiates, amphetamines and other drugs that might have produced their symptoms. Nothing showed up in any of the tests, save an ingredient in an antihistamine Abram had been prescribed for allergies.
Dr. Edward Elmendorf, the children's pediatrician, later told detectives he suspected that a vaginal discharge problem of Esther's might have been caused by Leslie "rubbing soap suds into her privates."
Leslie's behavior was suspicious, the doctors told detectives. Clearly, her children had suffered from some real disorders, including asthma, seizures and reflux problems. But other symptoms she had mentioned seemed vague or overblown.
Anxious, pushy and very smart, Leslie seized on far-fetched diagnoses and demanded tests and assessments, the doctors recalled. If one doctor didn't give her the answer she wanted, they said, she'd look for someone else.But there was never anything concrete, never an explanation for the children's tangle of illnesses or any proof that they were fabricated, according to court records.
Then in August 2005, Leslie took Esther to Elmendorf's office, insisting that Esther probably had Chiari and needed the special stroller to visit doctors in New York.
Elmendorf later told detectives that Esther showed no signs of pain or difficulty walking. He refused to "order the wheelchair for a healthy child."
An argument ensued. "That is when it hit the fan," Elmendorf told detectives in April 2006.
After Leslie left, a doctor-in-training who had been observing the visit gave a name to everyone's suspicions, scrawling into Esther's medical record: "suspected Munchausen by proxy syndrome."
Elmendorf consulted a colleague from the hospital's Children's Assessment Center, which reviews child abuse cases for the county. This mother, he said, is seeking an unnecessary surgery for her daughter that could cripple her.
Sixteen days after Esther's appointment, Elmendorf added a note to Esther's chart: "Esther has been to 3 neurosurgeons and 2 neurologists. She does not have Chiari malformation . . . but has a small syrinx that is not thought to be symptomatic. . . . Unfortunately -- I believe mother is seeking care for her children that is inappropriate and unnecessary."
That same day, he filed a child abuse complaint with the San Bernardino County Department of Children's Services. The complaint automatically was referred to the Sheriff's Department, which began an investigation.
Leslie, Elmendorf later told detectives, "needed to be stopped."
'Mom is dangerous'