A vegan couple have been charged with allegedly murdering their toddler son after he starved to death.
The boy, 18-months-old, weighed just seven kilograms at the time of his death in September – the average weight of a child half his age.
Ryan Patrick O'Leary, 30, and Sheila O'Leary, 35, from Florida, were charged on Wednesday (local time) with first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter, child abuse, and two counts of child neglect, according to WKMG.
State Attorney Amira Fox told the publication some of the charges pertain to three other children, aged 3, 5 and 11, in their care.
“The evidence and crime scene in this case are gut-wrenching. These are images as a mother and state attorney I will not be able to forget,” she said.
Ms O’Leary called police for help on September 27 when she noticed the young boy wasn’t breathing, according to police reports.
Mr O’Leary reportedly tried to resuscitate their son, who was cold to the touch, but he was pronounced dead by paramedics upon their arrival, according to the Fort Myers News-Press.
The publication reported that the couple later told police they only fed their children raw fruits and vegetables because they are vegan.
Assistant State Attorney Francine H. Donnorummo told News-Press the children were malnourished and that one of them had to have their decaying teeth removed.
The three-year-old and five year old have been removed from their care.
The 11-year-old was previously removed from the home and now lives with her biological father.
Neighbours said in November the family never gave off any “red flags.”
“They just lived such a secret life,” Robert Rioux told News-Press at the time.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.