A vegan Florida couple who fed their children only raw fruits and vegetables are facing murder charges after their 18-month-old son died of starvation.
Ryan Patrick O’Leary and Sheila O’Leary were indicted this week by a grand jury on a slew of charges after the death of their son in September. As NBC News reported, the couple called police on September 27 saying that their toddler had gone cold and they could not resuscitate him. The boy was declared dead when paramedics arrived at the home.
The boy’s mother later told investigators that she briefly nursed him on the day of his death but stopped when his breathing became shallow. The couple did not take the boy to a doctor or call for help in response to his breathing difficulties but instead went to sleep, police said.
As the report noted, the boy weighed 17 pounds at the time of his death, the weight of an average seven-month-old. State Attorney Amira Fox said at a press conference that the boy’s death was a result of not only starvation but an “extreme lack of care” from his parents.
Those who worked on the case said it was disturbing to see the condition of the toddler and his older siblings. The couple also had a 3-year-old, 5-year-old, and 11-year-old.
“The evidence and crime scene in this case are gut-wrenching. These are images as a mother and State Attorney I will not be able to forget,” Fox said, via The Associated Press.
Medical examiners noted that the deceased boy had signs of prolonged malnutrition, including dehydration and micro steatosis of the liver, a buildup of fat on the liver that is a result of long-term malnutrition. The boy also had swollen hands, feet, and lower legs.
As The Inquisitr noted, the couple originally did not face charges after the toddler’s death but then were hit with a lesser manslaughter charge.
The case has attracted some national attention, with many news outlets reporting on the strange circumstances of the boy’s death. The case also had parallels to another from last year, where a Michigan couple was charged with murder after their 10-month-old starved to death.
The Florida couple faces charges of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter, child abuse, and two counts of child neglect. The indictments include charges related to the couple’s other children, who prosecutors said were victims of “child abuse and extreme neglect.” The couple could face the death penalty if convicted.