Florida Parents Arrested For Allegedly Starving Their 18-Month-Old Son To Death

Trigger: Mention of child's death.

What any parent should want for their children is for them to grow up healthy. One important way to do that is by ensuring that their diet mostly contains whole foods and little junk food. But some parents are so worried and obsessed with wanting their kids to eat super healthy that they go to extremes in order to achieve it. Such extremes can eventually lead to tragic consequences for the affected children.

In Cape Coral, Florida, two parents have been arrested after allegedly starving their 18-month-old son to death. The parents have been identified as 30-year-old Ryan O'Leary and 35-year-old Sheila O'Leary. The deceased child- as well as his three siblings- haven't been identified in the media due to legal reasons.

Back on September 27th, 2019 at around 4 AM local time, Sheila told police that she was trying to breastfeed her teething son who "had not eaten for a week" and wasn't sleeping well. Shortly after she started breastfeeding, her baby "began to have shallow breathing". So, she decided to co-sleep with him in the living room with her husband and their remaining children.

According to Ryan, he was busy getting ready for work when he allegedly heard Sheila "scream" out of nowhere. When he ran over to see what was going on, he noticed that their son was "stiff and unresponsive". He had difficulty performing CPR due to his son's mouth being "clenched". Sadly, the infant would be pronounced dead at around 8:01 PM that same day. His cause of death was later revealed to be "complications of malnutrition".

via Healthline


Later, Sheila would tell police that her son had never seen a doctor and that she had given birth to him at home. The whole family ate a vegan diet, with all four children consuming a raw food diet. This included foods such as avocados, bananas, mangoes, and rambutans. Yet six months before his death, Sheila revealed that the same son has lost a considerable amount of weight due to being "very sick". He wasn't walking a lot because his feet had swollen "off and on for a few weeks". She and her husband said that they were concerned about their baby's health, adding that they "should have provided medical care".

Sadly, the O'Learys had subjected the same treatment to their remaining children. This led to them undergoing medical exams, as well as an investigation by Child Protective Services (CPS). Two of the children were "noted to be extremely small for their age", as well as having jaundice. One of them also had tooth decay that was bad enough to require surgery to correct.

The remaining child was noted to be the healthiest out of the surviving kids. This has been largely attributed to that child living part-time with her biological father. In fact, the daughter had been removed from Sheila's custody temporarily back in 2009 to live full-time with her father, who hasn't been named. It's unknown when Sheila regained custody of her daughter.

As for Sheila and Ryan, the pair turned themselves in to police on November 6th, 2019. This was after authorities determined that their baby boy's untimely death had happened due to "cupable negligence".  Both have been charged with manslaughter and child neglect. They're currently in Lee County Jail with a $250 000 USD surety bond and will appear in court on December 9th, 2019.

Our thoughts are with the deceased infant and his surviving siblings.

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