A Michigan couple is facing charges after officials say their 10-month-old died of malnourishment and dehydration because they refused to seek medical help for a number of reasons, including a lack of trust in doctors.
Authorities charged Seth Welch and Tatiana Fusari, both 27, with felony murder and first-degree child abuse in connection with the death of their daughter, according to a news release from the Kent County Sheriff’s Office.
The baby was found dead in her crib Aug. 2, and her manner of death was ruled a homicide, the release says. TV station WZZM reported “the responding officer noted in his police report that Mary Anne Welch’s cheeks and eyes were ‘sunken into her head.’”
“During interviews with both parents, admissions were made that they were aware of Mary Welch’s skinny appearance and low weight for at least one month prior to this date,” court documents cited by MLive.com state.
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Fusari told Kent County Sheriff’s detectives they “failed to reach out for medical help with their daughter for fear of having her children removed by Child Protective Services, lack of faith and trust in the medical services and religious reasons,” according to the documents cited by MLive.com.
Welch and Fusari have two other children who have been placed in the custody of family members, the release says.
In a jailhouse interview with WOOD-TV, Welch told the television station he had “no idea” Mary was ill to begin with. He defended his actions citing religious beliefs.
“I believe I am being unfairly charged, being made an example of for my very strong faith,” Welch said in the WOOD-TV interview. “Going into the doctor’s office these days is just about as dangerous as not going.”
Welch added in the WOOD-TV interview that Mary was indeed fed, saying there are empty baby food containers in their trash can to prove she was.
“In the Bible, it says that good food is our medicine. We fed her. We were feeding her chicken, potatoes, apples, cheese. We were giving her the good stuff,” Welch told WOOD-TV. “She died. It’s a tragedy. … The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh.”
The pair’s next court appearance is scheduled for Aug. 20.
Michaela Broyles: 843-626-0281, @MichaelaBroyles