The children had only been in school for three out of the last five years, according to police, and were placed with family, rather than with social services agencies, to provide some stability.
"She may blame herself or feel in some strange way that she is responsible, but it needs to be clear that she was a victim in this," Siracusa said.
How the teen will fare depends on "what strength she has had handling crises in the past," said Siracusa. "It's hard to say what kind of self-esteem or self-awareness she has, and what people do now to support her will make a big difference."
Murray said they got involved in the case when they heard "rumors about there being a scam going on."
Police said they did background checks with agencies to find out if the girl was getting cancer treatments.
Murray said police asked the state Department of Health and Environmental Health Control to pull the girl's medical records and found she was not on any cancer drug treatment. Alicia Kelly was apprehended after a warrant was issued, accusing her of issuing a bad check, he said.
"We picked her up on that and brought her in," said Murray. "We went through the interrogation in the cancer scheme and after about four or five hours, she broke and confessed it was all a scam."
The next morning, upon further interrogation, police learned some of the checks were in Kelly's father's name and they suspected she might be stealing from his bank account.
"We asked her where he was so we could interview him, and she said he was dead in a local trailer out in the county and had been dead since November," said Murray. "We figured it was this year. When we conducted a search of the trailer we found a body on its side on the floor in a little camper trailer, about 35-feet long and the body was already mummified."
When police checked dated milk bottles in the house, they realized the man had been dead since 2009. There was no food in the cabinets, only an empty gallon of milk.
Police charged Alicia Kelly with neglect of a vulnerable adult that results in death, a felony that carries a 30-year sentence.
Both Kellys are charged with two counts of swindling for money, as well as claiming their daughter was stricken with cancer. They are also charged with three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
The various charges could -- at least on paper -- send the couple to jail for 100 years, according to Murray.
The Kellys had been "bouncing around," but at the time of their arrest, the husband had a job working at a local factory and the family was living in a local hotel, according to Murray. The couple had more than $5,000 cash on them.
The children in the Kelly family, as alleged by police, are a "prime example" of cumulative risk -- lack of education, social support and normalcy, according to Tasha R. Howe, associate professor of psychology at Humboldt State University in California.
"The severe neglect of an elder in the family is often tied to abuse or neglect of the children," she said. "Not only has the girl realized her illness was a lie, but the people who were supposed to love and protect her, her parents, have betrayed her... and now the only caregivers she has known have also been taken away from her."
"And even though only one child was used for the cancer scam, all of the other children are at equal risk for developmental problems."