A pair of Florida parents have been arrested and charged with starving their baby to death with a strict vegan diet, a report says.
Sheila and Ryan O’Leary were arrested in Cape Coal, Florida, after they called emergency services because their baby boy was found unresponsive on September 27. After an investigation, the two were charged with manslaughter and child neglect, the Washington Post reported.
When first responders arrived at the couple’s home after Shelia called them, they pronounced the child dead on the scene. Officials said the baby weighed only 17 pounds, significantly underweight for an 18-month-old child.
The parents told authorities that they only eat fruit, vegetables and raw foods, such as mangoes, rambutans, bananas and avocados. They also said that Shelia supplemented the veggie fare with breastmilk for the child.
The couple also birthed the child at home and investigators say they never had the baby examined by a doctor.
The medical examiner determined that the child’s cause of death was malnutrition and complications, including dehydration, microsteatosis of liver, and swollen hands, feet and lower legs.
The pair turned themselves on on November 6 and were booked into the Lee County Jail with bonds set at $250,000 each.
The mother claims that the child had been feeling ill and was too finicky to eat and then began teething causing more strife.
The couple have two other children, ages 3 and 5. Authorities say they will be charging the two for neglect with the other kids, too, as both were found malnourished and one was even found with decaying and blackened teeth.
The pair claimed that they were homsechooling the children, but they had no records to show that they had created course work or tests for either of them, nor did the parents enroll in a homeschooling program, join a support group, or buy any teaching supplies.
The two remaining kids were removed from the home by the Department of Children and Families’ care.
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