In Minnesota, a sick seven-year-old boy has died after his adoptive parents refused to take him to the hospital. Instead, they treated him with prayers, “medical honey,” and small bites of pizza.
Timothy and Sarah Johnson were well aware that their son, Seth, was sick when they left him in the care of his 16-year-old brother to attend a wedding in March 2015. For weeks, he hadn’t been eating or sleeping, and had taken to throwing himself down stairs and banging his head against walls. The Johnsons say they had “issues with doctors” and preferred to treat him at home with a combination of prayers and what they call medical honey.
When the Johnson’s returned home from their weekend away, they found Seth unresponsive. While most parents would have called 911 immediately, they forced small bites of pizza into his mouth and laid him on a mattress on their bedroom floor without pillows or a blanket. The next morning, they awoke to find Seth covered in his own vomit. The small boy had died from an untreated case of pancreatitis.
While the case was first approached as a homicide by investigators, the medical examiner could not link Seth’s death to his parent’s actions. The Johnsons are scheduled to appear in court on January 31. At most, they will be convicted of child neglect, which carries a fine of $3,000 and one year in jail.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman is disgusted with the way the case has been handled.
He said, “The Johnsons, of course, are presumed innocent. But we are going to use all of our resources to prove them guilty of neglect of a child resulting in substantial physical harm and ask for the strongest penalty allowed under the statute and sentencing guidelines.”