Parents who prayed as their 11-year-old daughter died of untreated diabetes will be charged with second-degree reckless homicide, the Marathon County district attorney said Monday.
“The failure to seek medical intervention created an unreasonable and substantial risk of death or great bodily harm,” District Attorney Jill Falstad said.
She announced the charges Monday during a news conference at the Everest Metro Police Department with Police Chief Dan Vergin. Vergin has said Dale and Leilani Neumann told investigators their daughter Madeline last saw a doctor when she was 3 to get some shots.
The couple face up to 25 years in prison if convicted. Madeline – called Kara by her parents – died Easter Sunday at the family’s rural Weston home. An autopsy determined she died from undiagnosed diabetic ketoacidosis, an ailment that left her with too little insulin in her body.
The couple’s lawyer did not immediately return a message left by The Associated Press.
Leilani Neumann, 40, told AP previously she never expected her daughter to die. The family believes in the Bible, which says healing comes from God, but they are not crazy, religious people and have nothing against doctors, she said.
Dale Neumann, a former police officer, has said he has friends who are doctors. He started CPR “as soon as the breath of life left” his daughter’s body, he said.
Madeline, a straight-A student who was being home-schooled, was in good health until she started getting tired about two weeks before she died, her mother has said. When the situation got worse over Easter weekend, “we stayed fast in prayer then,” Leilani Neumann said. “We believed that she would recover.”
According to a search warrant request, the girl’s grandmother told investigators she had been ill for several days, was “very tired,” and wanted to be held by her mother. By March 22, Madeline couldn’t walk or talk, her grandmother said.
The grandmother said she told Leilani Neumann to take the girl to the doctor but the mother said her daughter “would be fine and God would heal her,” the court record said.
The grandmother eventually contacted a daughter-in-law in California, who called police on a non-emergency line to report the girl was in a coma and needed medical help. An ambulance was dispatched to the home shortly before some friends in the home called 911 to report the girl had stopped breathing, authorities said.
The Neumanns said they moved to Weston, a suburb of Wausau in central Wisconsin, from California about two years ago to open a coffee shop and be closer to other relatives. The couple has three other children, ages 13 to 16.
The family does not belong to an organized religion or faith, Leilani Neumann has said.
In March, an Oregon couple who belong to a church that preaches against medical care and believes in treating illness with prayer were charged with manslaughter and criminal mistreatment in the death of their 15-month-old daughter. The toddler died March 2 of bronchial pneumonia and a blood infection that could have been treated with antibiotics, the state medical examiner’s office said.
In Oregon, laws passed in the 1990s struck down legal shields for faith-healing parents after the deaths of several children whose parents were members of a fundamentalist church.