It was on the 27th February 2008 that Kory McFarren of Ness City, Kansas made a call to the Ness County Sheriff's Office to report that there was something wrong with his girlfriend Pam Babcock. When officers attended the "yellow and white trailer home" at 412 South Kansas Avenue they found a fully clothed thirty-five year old woman sitting upright on the toilet with her tracksuit trousers at half mast. Although the woman in question insisted that she did not need help and did not want to leave, the police concluded otherwise and decided that she needed medical attention. Easier said than done, as Pam Babcock was now physically attached to the toilet seat; unfortunately she had been sitting on the toilet for so long that she had developed open sores and her skin had begun to grow around the seat. As Ness County Sheriff Bryan Whipple explained, they were forced to remove the toilet seat "with a pry bar and the seat went with her to the hospital. The hospital removed it."
Pam Babcock was duly taken to hospital in Wichita where doctors reported that her legs appeared to have atrophied due to her remaining in a sitting position for so long, whilst an infection in her legs had caused nerve damage, and that it was therefore possible that she might never walk again and therefore wind up in a wheelchair.
Said to be in possession of "a thick mop of curly brown hair and a pretty smile", Pam Babcock was a former graduate of Utica High School where she had attended special education classes, and was variously described at the time as being "simple", "naive", and "sweet". It was said that she had suffered emotional problems after her mother died when she was nine, and left Utica in 1992 and moved to Ness City, where she drifted out of contact with her family and began dating the aforementioned Kory McFarren.
There was however nothing untoward to report until Pam Babcock went into the bathroom of the trailer home she shared with McFarren some two years ago and refused to come out. As McFarren explained matters; "It just kind of happened one day; she went in and had been in there a little while, the next time it was a little longer. Then she got it in her head she was going to stay - like it was a safe place for her." He was nevertheless adamant that he had done his best to persuade his girlfriend to abandon the bathroom, but that she had been reluctant to do so and had told him "Maybe tomorrow" every time that he had asked. He took her food and water every day, provided clean clothes at regular intervals, and even conducted perfectly normal conversations with her whilst she remained in her mini-refuge. It was however only when she appeared to be "groggy and listless", that McFarren was said to have finally panicked and decided to call for help.
This naturally gave rise to questions regarding to what extent Kory McFarren might or might not be in some way morally responsible for his girlfriend's predicament. McFarren himself was quoted as saying, "She is an adult; she made her own decision. I should have gotten help for her sooner; I admit that. But after a while, you kind of get used to it." However the exact details of what had transpired over the past two years were somewhat confused. For one thing the tale of the woman and the toilet seat was widely reported throughout the English speaking world, and Kory McFarren was soon so overwhelmed by the media attention that he went to ground. For another, his girlfriend Pam Babcock appeared to be unhappy that she'd been forcibly removed from her place of refuge and was refusing to cooperate with either medical staff or law enforcement personnel. The local courts had therefore felt obliged to appoint her a temporary guardian through the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, citing her refusal to eat and the fact that she was "medically incompetent".
The Ness County Attorney Craig Crosswhite later emerged to announce that he had decided to file charges against Kory McFarren for the mistreatment of a dependent adult, noting that this was the charge that "most closely applied to the situation". If nothing else, this suggested that perhaps the legislators hadn't quite foreseen this "very unusual set of circumstances", and that Crosswhite wasn't that confident of securing a conviction. Neither was it that clear what purpose charging McFarren would achieve other than presumably serving as a warning to others not to allow their partners to tarry too long on the bathroom before summoning the authorities.
- Edie Hall, As case goes to county attorney, talk, mystery abound, The Hutchinson News, 3/13/2008
- Kathy Hanks, Woman began withdrawing after high school, father says, The Hutchinson News, 3/13/2008
- Charges Being Filed in Toilet Case, WIBW TV News, Mar 13, 2008
- Woman Who Sat On Toilet Seat For Two Years Refusing To Help Medical Authorities, City News, March 13, 2008
- Sadie Gray and agencies, Man charged over girlfriend found stuck on toilet, The Guardian, March 20 2008 http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/mar/20/usa1