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A pair of Australian anti-vaxxers have been charged with murder after allegedly halting their eight-year-old’s life-saving treatment and opting to pray for her to be cured instead.
Elizabeth Rose Struhs, from Toowoomba, Queensland, died in her home having suffered from type 1 diabetes. It’s alleged that her parents, Kerrie, 46, and Jason, 50, denied her vital medication that would have kept her alive.
Instead, they prayed over the child at their home-based church out of a belief that God would cure the illness.
As a result, the couple have been charged with murder, torture and failing to provide the necessities of life.
Elizabeth died just five days after her meds were stopped on January 2, and as her condition worsened, her parents held a ‘prayer ritual’ alongside fellow worshippers rather than calling for an ambulance. A member of the prayer group reportedly did call for paramedics eventually, but by then it was too late.
The Daily Mirror reports that police were then dispatched to the family’s rental home last Saturday, with a neighbour claiming they saw a medic fleeing the property in tears.
Since then, Elizabeth’s older sister Jayde has made a plea for help having vowed to look after her remaining five younger siblings while her parents are in custody.
Jayde is aiming to raise $100,000 on Gofundme and hopes to be given guardianship of her brothers and sisters.
Writing on her Godfundme appeal page, she wrote:
We sadly discovered the death of Elizabeth in the cruellest of ways. With so many unanswered questions, we have faced the brutal reality that we may never know the full extent of what took place.
Jayde confirmed that her parents chose God over medicine to help Elizabeth, and added that her little sister ‘was taken too soon’.
She added, “The loss of our sister is unbearable. Her brave spirit in the face of medical adversity was inspiring. She was a bright light on all that met her.’
She also commented that her siblings – one other of adult age, with five more aged between three and 16 – have had ‘their entire worlds turned upside down’.
She added, ‘We are doing everything in our power to welcome them into a stable and loving environment surrounded by the family that have been previously kept from them. Our number one priority is the children.’
Kerrie and Jason Struhs appeared at Toowoomba Magistrates Court via video link from the Toowoomba watch house last Wednesday, January 12.
The case is set to return to court on March 24.
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