Parents arrested after alleged 'religious fast' leads to death of one child and leaves another emaciated
49-year-old Kehinde Omosebi and 48-year-old Titilayo Omosebi did not allow their sons to eat food after beginning a fast in July
A Wisconsin mother and father have been arrested and charged with child neglect after they allowed one of their sons to starve to death, and his brother to become extremely emaciated during a religious fast at their residence on Alexander Avenue on the west side of Reedsburg.
According to the New York Post, Saulk County Prosecutors have charged 49-year-old Kehinde Omosebi and 48-year-old Titilayo Omosebi with child neglect causing death and child neglect causing great bodily harm. Both charges are felonies and carry a maximum prison sentence of up to 37 years.
A criminal complaint states that Kehinde, an immigrant from Nigeria, walked into the Reedsburg Police Station on Sunday to report the death of his 15-year-old son.
He is said to have informed authorities that it was because of a religious fast he called on July 17. He also apparently made up a story about being a minister of a church called the 'Cornerstone Reformation Ministries,' public records of which were not in existence.
The Wisconsin State Journal reported that the police had to break down the doors of their home because it had been "padlocked" and that once inside, they encountered the "distinct smell of a corpse." The 15-year-old's body was found in a chair in the bedroom and his backbones and ribs were clearly visible under the skin.
His 11-year-old brother was very emaciated and couldn't walk or talk, with authorities even finding a handwritten letter from the boy addressed to 'Lawyers of Sauk County Circuit Court' which complained that the "hunger was too much" and "If I don’t get food now, I’ll probably die of hunger."
The residence was also barren of furniture and other belongings, with police chief Timothy Becker saying, "The residence had no phone, no power, no food." Assistant District Attorney Linda A Hoffman said Kehinde told police he believes he has done nothing wrong and that his family was planning to move to Atlanta. She also added he had sold all of his family belongings and that he hadn't paid rent in several months.
The 49-year-old made his initial court appearance via CCTV from the Sauk County Jail in Baraboo and had his bail set at $5,000. A condition set for the bail mandated he have no contact with his surviving son.
Omosebi's attorney told the court that her client hasn't worked since February and that he had previously been employed at Grede Foundries in Reedsburg. It was also revealed that he had been in the United States for 12 years, though the family only moved to Reedsburg from Madison a year ago.
Titilayo was taken to the hospital with her younger son but refused treatment by citing religious reasons. She was then taken to Saulk County Jail and is set to make her first court appearance on Wednesday. Both parents are now reportedly eating food.
The 11-year-old surviving child is now in protective custody at the American Family Children's Hospital in Madison.