5-month-old found emaciated, 'close to death' after vegan parents fed him mashed potatoes instead of baby formula

Robert Ronald Buskey, 31, and Julia Austin French, 20, were arrested and charged this past Wednesday with felony child abuse after their child was found extremely malnourished


                            5-month-old found emaciated, 'close to death' after vegan parents fed him mashed potatoes instead of baby formula
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A vegan Florida couple was arrested this past week after the authorities found their five-month-old son to be extremely malnourished and close to death. It has been revealed that they had stopped feeding the infant a doctor-recommended formula "consistent with their vegan lifestyle" and fed him a potato-mash vegan compound they discovered online.

31-year-old Robert Ronald Buskey and 20-year-old Julia Austin French were charged with felony child abuse causing great bodily harm. Police have not ruled out the possibility of bringing further charges against the pair, who are not married to one another — French described herself as Buskey's concubine as part of their Nazarite Hebrew religion.

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According to WFTV, police in Titusville received a tip about a severely malnourished baby from the Department of Children and Families this past Wednesday, February 13. When they arrived at the residence for the welfare check, they found that the child was extremely sick. Speaking about the boy, detective Lauren Watson said, "I've never seen a child to this level, this close to possible death."

Buskey is being held on a $77,500 bond at the Brevard County Jail (Source: Brevard County Sheriff's Office)
Buskey is being held on a $77,500 bond at the Brevard County Jail (Source: Brevard County Sheriff's Office)

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An arrest affidavit in the case obtained by Patheos states the baby had sunken eyes, loose skin on his extremities, and that his ribs and other bones were showing because of how emaciated he was — he weighed just eight pounds and eight ounces, one pound more in comparison to his birth weight of seven pounds and nine ounces in September.

The baby was also described as lacking muscle tone and being lethargic and unable to move. Furthermore, he was unable to maintain his blood sugar and temperature, with doctors stating after an examination that he was extremely malnourished and dehydrated, and that he could suffer longterm heart complications.

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Medical records indicate that the infant was taken to the hospital on November 1 because of nutrition concerns. At that time, a doctor had advised Buskey and French to feed the baby an organic formula. They followed the advice for a few months and saw the child gain weight and once again become healthy.

French is being held on a $50,000 bond at the Brevard County Jail (Source: Brevard County Sheriff's Office)
French is being held on a $50,000 bond at the Brevard County Jail (Source: Brevard County Sheriff's Office)

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However, when the boy was taken back to the hospital earlier this month on February 4, he had once again lost a significant amount of body mass. When questioned after her arrest, French confessed she had stopped giving the infant the baby formula in favor of a potato-mash vegan compound she had discovered online.

Neither she nor Buskey could answer why they switched to the potato mash — both had the financial means to purchase formula — and Buskey reportedly questioned the accuracy of the medical records and was said to be incredulous that his son weighed just eight pounds.

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Buskey and French are both currently incarcerated at the Brevard County Jail on bonds of $77,500 and $50,000 respectively. The former is scheduled to appear in court on March 7 while there are no details on the hearings for the latter. 

The infant is currently hospitalized and is receiving treatment for malnourishment, with police revealing he had already gained half a pound after receiving IV fluids overnight. WFTV reported that when he is released after his treatment, he is expected to remain in state custody.