Parents let their child starve to death for religious reasons
THE Christian parents of a 10-month-old girl who died of malnutrition and dehydration in western Michigan have been charged with the death of their daughter, facing life in jail.
Seth Welch and Tatiana Fusari, both 27, allegedly refused to get their little girl Mary medical help for religious reasons.
On Monday they were both charged with felony murder and first-degree child abuse.
In footage filmed in a Kent County court, Mr Welch is seen staring at the judge with his mouth wide open as she read out the charges, while Ms Fusari bursts into tears.
One of the first responders on the scene found Mary with sunken eyes and cheeks and lack of pulse after Mr Welch called 911.
Deputies found the child not breathing inside a home in Solon Township, north of Grand Rapids. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to AP, an autopsy on Friday ruled the cause of death as malnutrition and dehydration due to neglect by adult caregivers.
The Cedar Springs couple admitted their daughter had been skinny and underweight for at least a month, an affidavit alleged.
The parents didn't seek medical help for religious reasons, "fear of having Child Protective Services called and a lack of trust in medical services", according to court records.
Mr Welch posted on Facebook about his child's death last Thursday saying, "Heart is about shattered right now.
"Woke up to Mary dead in her bed this morning - this evening had our children removed and placed on 'no contact' because Tati and I are the worst parents ever - Thankfully they are with grandma and grandpa.
"Just numb inside right now. And I'm really enjoying the loving embrace of an isolation cell from the cops and government employees who keep assuring me 'they are only here to help'."
Mr Welch and Ms Fusari, who have two older children together aged 2 and 4, are being held without bond and court records don't list lawyers who can speak on their behalf.
AP reported that Child Protective Services filed on Monday a neglect case against the parents involving their two eldest children.
Mr Welch, who often uses his Facebook page to preach his Christian beliefs, also posted about Child Protective Services and a distrust of doctors, WOOD-TV reported.
On doctors, he said: "They're priesthoods of the medical cult."
On vaccines: "The righteous shall live by faith. It's God who is sovereign over disease and those sorts of things and, of course, ultimately deaths."
He said someone called CPS about him when he at first refused to get his oldest daughter vaccinated, and that he didn't get his other two kids, including Mary, vaccinated.
"It didn't seem smart that you would be saving people who weren't the fittest," he said in one video. "If evolution believes in survival of the fittest, why are we vaccinating everybody? Shouldn't we just let the weak die off and let the strong survive?"
Ms Fusari is also believed to be pregnant with a fourth child.
The couple could face life in prison without parole, if convicted of felony murder.