Couple Charged For Death Of Seven-Year-Old, Allegedly Refused To Get Him Medical Help Because Of Their Religious Beliefs

A Minnesota couple has been charged for the death of their adopted son who they reportedly refused to take to a doctor despite his dire heath situation. Timothy D. Johnson, 39, and Sarah N. Johnson, 38, were arraigned in Hennepin County, Minnesota last week for the death of Seth Johnson who died in 2015.

According to the Star Tribune, the seven-year-old boy died a slow and painful death. He was made to spend his last moments on a vomit-stained bed before he died from swollen pancreas and complications of other ailments that his parents refuse to treat. A criminal complaint revealed that his adopted parents were extremely religious and had “issues with going to doctors.”

Seth was home schooled and physically underdeveloped. The seven-year-old also never received medical assistance for his cuts and bruises which eventually got infected. The weekend before his condition deteriorated, his foster parents were out of town for a wedding. They had left Seth in the care of his 16-year-old brother.

The teenager had called his parents to tell them that Seth could not get out of bed and was finding it difficult to speak. Timothy and Sarah Johnson had wanted to travel immediately back to their Plymouth residence. However, they changed their minds after they learned Seth had eaten some Cheerios.

They returned home the following day to find the seven-year-old unconscious on the floor. They did not call 911. Instead, opting to pray and gave the revived boy some pizza, before putting him to sleep on a mattress without a blanket or pillow. The couple had finally agreed to get him medical help, but delayed it until the following morning. The boy died that night.

According to a source that spoke to the Daily Mail, the boy died of possible sepsis and acute pancreatitis. Sepsis is a life-threatening complication of infections when they go untreated. It occurs when harmful bacteria and toxins get into the bloodstream. When this happens, it triggers multiple inflammatory responses in the body causing major organs to fail. On the other hand, acute pancreatitis is the inflammation of the gland that helps the small intestine digest food. An inflammation of the gland causes internal bleeding, severe tissue infection and damage to vital organs like the kidneys, heart, and lungs.
When emergency response teams arrived at the Johnson’s residence around 7:40 am, they found Timothy Johnson administering CPR on the unresponsive boy. But he was already dead. Police noticed that the boy had bruises all over his body. His parents attributed it to behavioral issues, adding that the boy would usually hurl himself down the stairs to deliberately injure himself.

The Johnsons adopted Seth at age three and claimed that his problems took a turn for the worse when he stopped sleeping and began to develop blisters and lesions on his legs. The foster parents on their own decided the child was suffering from traumatic brain injury, PTSD and was a victim of fetal alcohol syndrome. Sarah Johnson’s father said his daughter and son-in-law also told him about Seth having a drug-addicted mother.

According to police authorities, the Johnsons treated it with antibiotic ointment, honey, and vitamins. Medical professionals found no traces of their diagnosis in Seth’s body.When Seth Johnson died, his parents in his obituary, described him dying as “unexpectedly.” They opened a fundraising page for him, raising $7,680 more than expected. On the fundraising page, they depicted Seth Johnson as a “very quiet and hurting” child who was gladly welcomed into their family which already comprised of six children.
In a shared Facebook page, his adopted parents said they were pained by the loss of the seven-year-old boy and expressed gratitude to all those that had helped them wade through the difficult times.
“Our dear friends and family have carried us through these last two weeks. We couldn’t talk, we didn’t know how to get out of bed…You stood by us, you took us by the hand, you fed us, watched over our children, loved them, cleaned our home, prayed for us and over us…In this time of devastation, weakness, heart brokenness…you came. We are thankful for you.”

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman has revealed he did not know about the case until nine months later after Seth Johnson had died. Freeman said it was obvious that the young boy suffered physical and emotional trauma. The county attorney made known that he wanted to treat the case as a homicide. However, the evidence available could not link the action and inaction of the Johnsons to Seth’s illness and death.

As a result, he charged them with the most serious crime that the law allowed which is gross-misdemeanor child neglect. He said his office would seek the maximum penalty against the Minnesota couple if they are convicted. The county attorney said he was struggling to understand why the Johnsons “refused to do what most parents would have done and take him [Seth] to a doctor.”

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