A western Michigan couple has been charged with felony murder and first-degree child abuse over the death of their 10-month-old daughter after she died of malnutrition and dehydration.
Kent County Sheriff’s Department records confirm that the child died on Thursday and that an autopsy confirmed her cause of death. Seth Welch and Tatiana Fusari, both 27, were charged on Monday, and according to WOOD-TV 8, they decided not to get medical help for their daughter, Mary Anne Welch, for religious reasons and out of fear that she would be taken away.
“During interviews with both parents, admissions were made that they were aware of Mary Welch’s skinny appearance and low weight for at least one month prior to this date,” an affidavit quoted by WOOD-TV states. “Tatiana Fusari admitted during the interview that they failed to reach out for medical help with their daughter for fear of having her children removed by Child Protective Services, lack of faith and trust in the medical services, and religious reasons.”
Authorities say that Welch, who lives with his wife and children in Solon Township, roughly 25 miles north of Grand Rapids, Michigan, called emergency services around noon on Thursday to report that he found his daughter dead in her crib. He also posted about the incident on his personal Facebook page.
“Heart is about shattered right now. Woke up to Mary dead in her bed this morning—this evening had our children removed and placed on ‘no contact’ because Tati and I are the worst parents ever,” he wrote. “Thankfully they are with grandma and grandpa. Just numb inside right now. And I’m really enjoying the loving embrace of an isolation cell from the cops and government employees who keep assuring me ‘they are only here to help.’”
Welch’s Facebook is full of Christian religious quotes, and he even shares his belief that scripture can cure illnesses a few times: On June 11, he wrote: “Woke up feeling real sick today. Read The Bible for about an hour and felt all better.” His page also contains anti-vaccination posts and videos.
Welch and Fusari could face life in prison if they're convicted of felony murder.