UPDATE: Parents Of Baby Kept On Vegan Diet Charged With Manslaughter

Trigger: Mention of child's death.

A pair of Cape Coral, Florida parents have now been charged with manslaughter after their baby boy starved to death.

30-year-old Ryan O'Leary and 35-year-old Sheila O'Leary turned themselves into police back on November 6th, 2019. In addition to the aforementioned manslaughter charge, they also have to answer for child neglect in the death of their unidentified 18-month-old baby boy. The couple remains in Lee County Jail on a $250 000 USD surety bond. Sheila has retained an attorney in John Musca, though it's unknown if Ryan has an attorney at this time.

On Friday, September 27th, 2019 at about 4 AM local time, Sheila said she was trying to breastfeed her teething son who, according to her, "had not eaten for a week" and wasn't sleeping well. Not long after she had started, the baby "began to have shallow breathing". That's when she decided to co-sleep with him in the living room, where her husband and their remaining children were.

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Husband Ryan was getting ready for work when he allegedly heard Sheila "scream". When he ran over to his wife, he noticed that their son was "stiff and unresponsive". He tried performing CPR, but that proved difficult due to his son's mouth being "clenched". Their infant would be pronounced dead at 8:01 PM. The cause of death was said to be "complications of malnutrition".

via Tribuna


Sheila later told Lee County police that their son never saw a doctor, and that she had also delivered him inside their own home. The whole family ate vegan, with all four children strictly consuming a raw food diet. Such foods they were allowed to eat included avocados, bananas, mangoes, and rambutans. The children were also said to be homeschooled, although there were no records found of them were enrolled in any sort of home-school program in Florida.

These revelations led to the surviving children undergoing medical exams, as well as their parents being investigated by Child Protective Services (CPS). Two of the children- aged five and three respectively- were "noted to be extremely small for their age", and they also had jaundice. One of them was found to have tooth decay that was so bad that it requires surgery to correct. The fourth child was the healthiest, which has been largely attributed to her living part-time with her biological father. Interestingly, the daughter had been removed from Sheila's custody back in 2009 in order to live full-time with her father, who has gone unidentified. It's not yet known when Sheila managed to regain custody of this daughter.

Six months before her baby's death, Sheila revealed that he had lost a noticeable amount of weight due to being "very sick". He also wasn't walking much because his feet had been swelling "off and on for a few weeks". She and Ryan said that they'd been concerned about their son's health, and added that they "should have provided medical care". Unfortunately, medical care came too late for their baby boy, and he died far too soon as a result.

The O'Learys are scheduled to return to court on Monday, December 9th, 2019. Our thoughts continue to be with the deceased infant, as well as his surviving siblings- who are now in the care of the state's Department of Children and Families.

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