NEWS

Vegan couple are charged for ‘starving toddler to death, feeding him strict plant-based diet’

He was seriously malnourished
Lee County Sheriff's Office

A child starved to death as his vegan parents fed him practically nothing except raw fruit and vegetables.

Last week, Ryan, 30, and Sheila, 35, O’Leary were arrested for the death of their 18-month-old son who died on September 27.

The toddler who was from Cape Coral, Florida, weighed just 17 pounds when he passed – which is the average weight of a seven-month-old.

An autopsy carried out by Cape Coral police discovered the boy had died after suffering from dehydration, microsteatosis of liver and swelling of hands, feet and legs – all which are related to malnutrition.

According to The Metro, Sheila O’Leary dialled emergency services when she found her son cold and not breathing.

Despite Ryan O’Leary’s efforts to resuscitate the child, he was unsuccessful. When paramedics arrived, the boy was pronounced dead.

When police spoke to the couple, they noticed two of their other children were pale and yellowish in colour, it’s reported by the News-Press.

Authorities weighed the children – ages 3 and 5 – discovering they were both at the very bottom weight range for their age. One of them had blackened teeth.

A third female child did appear to be healthier, but police found out that this child was Sheila O’Leary’s daughter with a different father.

It’s reported police believed she was healthier as she would visit her father for a few weeks every two months.

Sheila O’Leary told police her family is vegan and live on a diet of raw fruits and vegetables.

She said she did also breastfeed her toddler, explaining her son hadn’t eaten solid food for a week, only breast milk.

The day the child died, Sheila fed her son for a minute before his breathing became shallow. She said she should have called someone, but ended up falling asleep with her husband.

On November 6, the child’s death was determined and his parents turned themselves in.

The O’Learys were charged with aggravated negligent manslaughter along with other charges. They are currently on hold in jail until their arraignment on December 9.

Earlier this year, a vegan couple left their baby so malnourished she had no teeth.

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