AN 18-month-old toddler has died from alleged starvation after his Irish-American parents fed him nothing but a vegan diet of raw fruit and vegetables.
Ryan O’Leary, 30, and Sheila O’Leary, 35, have been charged with aggravated manslaughter and child neglect after their infant son passed away on September 27.
Sheila O’Leary called 911 after finding the young child cold and not breathing. Though Ryan O’Leary tried to resuscitate the child, his efforts proved unsuccessful with paramedics later pronouncing the boy dead at the scene.
An autopsy revealed the child weighed just 17 pounds – the average weight of a seven-month-old - at the time of his death.
A statement from Cape Coral police said the toddler was found to have died from complications related to malnutrition, including dehydration, microsteatosis of liver and swelling of hands, feet and legs.
According to News-Press, police investigating the child’s death then noticed the gaunt appearance of the couple’s other two children, aged 3 and 5.
Both were found to be at the very bottom weight range for their age while one of the children’s teeth reportedly appeared blackened by decay.
Sheila later confirmed to the authorities that her family only eats raw fruits and vegetables. She added that the 18-month-old toddler had been exclusively breast fed and consumed no solid food for the week leading up to his death.
She also told authorities the boy had exhibited some shallow breathing in the hours before his passing, but she failed to notify any relevant authorities.
While a third child was also reportedly present at the O’Leary household during the investigation, it was confirmed that the girl was Sheila’s with another man based in Virginia and regularly visits him there.
She has now been sent to live with him on a permanent basis while the other two have been taken into care.
The couple have now been charged with one count of aggravated manslaughter of a child due to neglect, one count of child neglect causing great bodily harm, and one count of child neglect without great bodily harm.
According to Fox 4 Now, the Sheila O’Leary’s attorney argued her son had been sick for six months prior to his death.
“The child had been sick six months prior, and had not fully recuperated. The child had started eating better, and then the child began teething,” John Musca said. “And the mother was concerned, very concerned that that was causing him not to eat as well.”