A US couple who failed to seek medical care for their severely malnourished infant daughter because of their extreme Christian and anti-government beliefs have been charged with murder.
Seth Welch’s “jaw dropped” when he and his wife, Tatiana Fusari, both 27, were formally charged felony murder and first-degree child abuse in a Michigan courtroom in Monday, the Detroit Free Press reports.
On Thursday, ten-month-old Mary Anne was found dead at the family home, a rural property surrounded with handpainted signs bearing messages such as “Repent. Believe. Obey.”, local NBC station WOOD-TV reports.
The couple, who have two other young children, were taken into custody the following day, after an autopsy revealed that the infant died from malnutrition and dehydration.
According to police records, both Welch and Fusari told detectives that they were “aware of Mary Welch’s skinny appearance and low weight” at least a month before she died.
Fusari said that “fear of having her children removed by Child Protective Services, lack of faith and trust in the medical services and religious reasons” convinced her not to seek medical help for the child.
Videos posted to Facebook outlined the family’s extreme Christian and anti-government beliefs.
Welch, who describes himself as a “farmer”, advocated living “off the grid” and dismissed medical science as a “cult”.
“The righteous shall live by faith,” Welch said a video decrying vaccination. “It’s God who is sovereign over disease and those sorts of things and, of course, ultimately deaths.”
If convicted of felony murder, the pair face a life sentence without possibility of parole.