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Parents’ Religious Beliefs Lead to Tragic Death of 16-Month-Old Daughter, Afflicted with Bone-Softening Disease, Weighing Only 9 Pounds

In a tragic case, a 48-year-old woman named Denise has been convicted of second-degree murder and child abuse in connection with the 2013 death of her 16-month-old daughter, Miriam.

The jury delivered the verdict, concluding that Denise and her husband, Ernest, failed to provide essential medical care to Miriam due to their “religious beliefs.”

The distressing situation came to light when Denise called 911 from their home in July 2023, reporting an unresponsive child.

Responders arrived to find a severely malnourished and emaciated toddler. Despite their efforts, Miriam succumbed to her condition at the hospital.

A subsequent medical examination revealed that her death was caused by malnutrition and Rickets, a disease resulting from prolonged vitamin D deficiency, leading to weakened bones. Miriam’s weight at the time of death, less than nine pounds, underscored the extent of neglect.

Prosecutors successfully argued that Denise deliberately provided her daughter with an inadequate diet and intentionally withheld necessary medical care.

Ernest had previously pleaded guilty to manslaughter and child abuse related to Miriam’s death. The couple’s other six children were subsequently placed in foster care.

Scheduled for sentencing on January 19, 2024, Denise faces a minimum sentence of 23 years and could potentially spend the remainder of her life in prison.

This case sheds light on the devastating consequences of neglect rooted in religious beliefs, leaving a community grappling with the loss of a young life and raising questions about the balance between parental autonomy and the well-being of vulnerable children.

Rhiannon Ingle
Rhiannon Ingle
Journalist at the Medialinker Group
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