An Oregon City couple convicted of criminally negligent homicide in the death of their teenage son will be released from prison on Wednesday.
Jeff and Marci Beagley were found guilty last year of failing to seek medical help for their 16-year-old son, Neil, who died in June 2008. The young man died of kidney failure after developing a urinary tract infection.
The Beagleys are members of the Followers of Christ church. Members shun conventional medicine in favor of faith healing.
Greg Horner, the chief deputy district attorney in the Beagleys case, also prosecuted the faith healing trial of the couple’s daughter, Raylene Worthington, and her husband, Carl Brent Worthington.
The Beagleys were present at the death of their granddaughter, laying on hands after anointing her with oil and praying for her to be healed, instead of seeking medical care that church members avoid. The same scenario occurred on the night their son died: 100 people were reported to be in the home, laying hands on the teen, praying and handing out a ceremonial wine.
When the Beagleys were sentenced last year, the judge in the case, Steven Maurer, had harsh words about the Followers of Christ church and its members.
“Too many children have died unnecessarily,” he said at the time. “There is a graveyard full of their bodies and it has to stop, it just has to stop.”
On March 10, 2011, the Oregon House approved a bill that would remove legal protection for parents who choose faith healing over medical intervention when treating their children.
The legislation comes in response to practices of the Followers of Christ church.