A Philadelphia faith-healing couple has been charged with third-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, and other charges in the death of their 7-month-old son.
Brandon Scott Schaible died on April 18 from bacterial pneumonia, severe dehydration, and strep. His parents, Catherine and Herbert Schaible, withheld medical care because they believed in God's power to heal the baby.
The couple are members of a Juniata Park church that refuses almost all modern health care and safety procedures, including glasses, toothpaste, and seat belts. When Brandon grew sick, the couple called an assistant pastor to their Rhawnhurst home to pray for and anoint the baby. They never sought appropriate medical care, even though they were obligated to under the terms of their probation in relation to the 2009 death of their 2-year-old son, Kent.
A report by Assistant Medical Examiner Gary Collins said Brandon had difficulty breathing, irritability, and little appetite for three days before he died.
In addition to the murder and manslaughter charges, the Schaibles were also charged with conspiracy and endangering the welfare of a child. Their pastor, Nelson Clark, questioned the murder charge, saying, "There isn't really any guarantee that he would have lived if they took him to a medical practitioner."
First Assistant District Attorney Ed McCann said the couple was charged with murder because of their "extreme indifference to the value of human life."
Clark said he did consider whether he would also be charged in Brandon's Schaible's death but said he wouldn't stop preaching what he believed.
"We have to obey God rather than man," he said.
The Schaibles have seven other children, ranging in age from 8 to 17. The children have been placed in temporary foster care, and have been allowed to have supervised visits with their parents. They were also allowed to attend a recent church service.
Catherine and Herbert Shaible are scheduled for a probation hearing next month. If it is found that they violated the terms of their probation, they could face five to 10 years in prison.