Vegan parents ‘starved son to death’
Two vegans in Florida accused of starving their 18-month-old son to death by feeding him only raw fruits and vegetables have been charged with murder, authorities said.
Ryan Patrick O'Leary, 30, and Sheila O'Leary, 35, were also charged with counts of aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter, child abuse and child neglect, state lawyer Amira Fox announced.
"The evidence and crime scene in this case are gut-wrenching," Fox said, describing the "horrendous" abuse.
"These are images as a mother and state lawyer I will not be able to forget."
The couple from Florida, US, surrendered to police last month after a medical examiner ruled that their son - who weighed just 7.7kg - died on September 27 of malnutrition.
Sheila O'Leary had earlier called police to report that their son was cold and wasn't breathing.
She told police that she had attempted to breastfeed the 18-month-old the previous night and noticed his breathing was shallow but had fallen asleep with her husband rather than alert professionals, The Sunreported.
Ryan O'Leary tried to revive the malnourished toddler, but when ambos arrived on the scene he was pronounced dead inside the home.
An autopsy report determined the boy's cause of death as suffering complications related to malnutrition, including dehydration, microsteatosis of the liver and swelling of the hands, feet and legs.
The boy's mother later told police the family's four children ate only raw foods like mangoes, rambutans, bananas and avocados. The boy had not eaten solid food for a week but was being breastfed, Sheila O'Leary told police.
She insisted that she supplemented her youngest child's diet with breast milk, and that he had not eaten solid food for a week before his death.
The charges also involved the couple's three other children, ages three, five and 11 who police said were exhibiting signs of extreme malnutrition, including yellow skin, extremely underweight and blackened, rotting teeth. One child was so badly malnourished, some of their teeth had to be removed, WBBH reported.
The alleged abuse took place this year, Fox said.
Ryan O'Leary is the biological father of the three youngest children, while the 11-year-old is now living in Virginia with her father. The couple, who remain jailed, are set to be arraigned on Monday.
This article originally appeared on the NY Post and was reproduced with permission