SOLON TOWNSHIP, Mich. – A Kent County couple is facing charges after refusing to seek medical help, citing religious reasons, for their 10-month-old daughter who died of starvation last week, officials said.
Seth Welch, 27, and his wife, Tatiana Fusari, 27, were both charged with felony murder and first-degree child abuse Monday, WOOD-TV reports. Their daughter, Mary Ann Welch died of malnutrition and dehydration August 2, according to investigators.
The parents were aware of their daughter's skinny appearance and low weight for at least a month prior to her death, according to an affidavit obtained by WOOD-TV. The mother admitted to detectives that they failed to reach out for medical help due to fear of having her children removed by Child Protective Services, lack of faith and trust in medical services, and religious reasons, the affidavit said.
The couple has two other children, ages 2 and 4.
As their charges were read during an arraignment Monday, Welch's jaw dropped and Fusari was in tears.
Watch WOOD-TV's report below:
Shortly after noon August 2, deputies responded to a 911 call from the couple's home in Solon Township. Mary Ann Welch was found unresponsive and pronounced dead at the scene, police said.
According to one deputy, the infant's eyes and cheeks were sunken into her head and she was cold to the touch.
Later that day, Welch wrote on Facebook that his other two children were removed and placed on no contact.
Welch had posted frequently about his Christian beliefs on his personal Facebook page. He also expressed his views on the medical industry.
In a video posted May 2, he referred to doctors as "priesthoods of the medical cult," and explained that he thinks doctors would have to believe in creationism to successfully treat patients.
Welch also spoke about vaccines, saying, "If evolution believes in survival of the fittest, why are we vaccinating everybody? Shouldn't we just let the weak die off and let the strong survive?"
He said that someone had previously called CPS on him after he refused to vaccinate his children.
Welch and Fusari ran Blackacre Farm Products from their home, selling fresh produce, syrup, honey and other goods.
The couple are being held in the Kent County Jail without bail. They are due in court on August 20.