Police: Girl died as parents prayed instead of seeking help

TOWN OF WESTON — An 11-year-old town of Weston girl died Sunday from a treatable form of diabetes after her parents prayed for healing rather than seek medical treatment, Everest Metro Police Chief Dan Vergin said this afternoon.

Vergin said the girl’s parents, Dale and Leilani Neumann, believe she died because they apparently didn’t have enough faith.

Members of the Neumann family operate Monkey Mo coffee shop in Weston, and a sign on the business’ window today said it had been closed “due to a family emergency.”

Faith Healing
The term ‘faith healing’ refers to healing that occurs supernaturally — as the result of prayer rather than the use of medicines or the involvement of physicians or other medical care.
But while faith healings do take place today just as they did in the early Christian church, the teachings of some churches, movements and individuals on this subject amount to spiritual abuse.
Legitimate churches and movements do not equal using drugs or receiving proper medical attention with unbelief, insufficient faith, or otherwise sinning against God.

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The child’s aunt from California asked police to respond to the home to check on her niece, Madeline Neumann, Vergin said. Neumann then was taken by ambulance to Saint Clare’s Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Vergin said the cause of death was diabetic ketoacidosis, which develops when a person has too little insulin in their body. Left untreated, diabetic ketoacidosis might cause a person to lose consciousness and die, according the Mayo Clinic Web site.

Vergin said Madeline, who went by her middle name, Kara, had probably been ill for about 30 days, suffering symptoms like nausea, vomiting, excessive thirst, loss of appetite and weakness.

“It is our understanding that instead of seeking medical help, they chose to pray over her and their faith would heal her,” Vergin said.

“She got sicker and sicker until she was dead,” he told The Associated Press.

He said the family has no ties to a specific church or religion. “They have a little Bible study of a few people.”

Police will continue to investigate Neumann’s death and forward their findings to the Marathon County district attorney’s office to determine if a crime was committed, Vergin said.

A telephone message left at the Neumann home by the Wausau Daily Herald was not immediately returned today.

Vergin said the girl had not seen a doctor since age 3. Police have not had contact with her family in the past.

The girl had attended Riverside Elementary School in the D.C. Everest School District during the first semester but didn’t return for the second semester.

The girl has three siblings, ranging in age from 13 to 16, the police chief said.

“They are still in the home,” Vergin said. “There is no reason to remove them. There is no abuse or signs of abuse that we can see.”

Kathy Ziembo, an advanced practice registered nurse for Aspirus Wausau Hospital, said diabetic ketoacidosis is a treatable condition that the hospital helps patients with several times a week.

“You know if there is something wrong,” Ziembo said.

A shortage of insulin causes the body to break down fat, which produces toxic acids known as ketones, Ziembo said. Treatment generally takes a few days in the hospital as patients are given insulin intravenously and fluids are replaced, she said.

People with Type 1 diabetes are at the highest risk of developing diabetic ketoacidosis, according to the Mayo Clinic. Type 1 diabetes in children typically develops as a genetic condition that requires insulin treatments.

Type 2 diabetes patients are able to generate some insulin, but not enough. Type 2 typically develops as the result of a health issue and is often preventable, according to doctors.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.


• Some similarly-worded AP reports state the police chief “says the family does not attend an organized church or religion but is part of a Bible study group of a few people.” Also: “The mother believes the girl could still be resurrected, the police chief said.”

• Original title: Police say coffee shop owners believe lack of faith killed daughter

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Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday March 26, 2008.
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