Seth Welch and Tatiana Fusari of Kent County, Michigan, have been charged with felony murder and first-degree child abuse in connection with the death of their 10-month-old daughter, Mary Anne Welch.
According to medical examiners, Mary Anne died of malnutrition and dehydration due to neglect last week.
Welch and Fusari reportedly did not seek medical help for Mary Anne because of religious reasons, according to court records obtained by WOOD-TV.
What are the details behind the baby’s death?
Welch called emergency services Aug. 2 to report that he’d discovered his daughter dead in her crib. The child was reportedly discovered dead with her cheeks and eyes “sunken into her head.”
Kent County, Michigan, sheriff’s detectives interviewed both of Mary Anne’s parents, who reportedly admitted that they knew of Mary Anne’s deteriorating physical condition for at least a month prior to her untimely death last week.
A portion of an affidavit stated, “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.”
Welch and Fusari were charged on Monday.
Last week, a posting on a Facebook page that purportedly belonged to Welch also revealed the child’s death.
The posting read, “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 — [t]hankfully they are with grandma and grandpa.”
“Just numb inside right now,” the posting continued. “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 and Fusari, who were arraigned on Monday, are being held in the Kent County Jail without bail.
The couple are due back in court on Aug. 20. If convicted, both could face life in prison.
What’s the religious angle?
The couple has three other young children, ages 2, 4 and 8.
Outside of their home, Welch had signs displayed proclaiming his faith, which had been nailed to trees and the family home’s fence. One such sign reads, “Repent. Believe. Obey.”
Welch has reportedly been vocal on Facebook in the past, proselytizing against doctors and conventional medicine.
In one video, Welch reportedly said that doctors are “priesthoods of the medical cult.” He also appeared to be anti-vaccine, judging by other postings. One post revealed that Child Protective Services had intervened when he’d reportedly opted out of vaccinating his children — including baby Mary Anne.
You can view the collection of videos here.
Welch spoke to WOOD’s Leon Hendrix in a jailhouse interview, where he detailed discovering his baby’s dead body, his aversion to conventional medicine and physicians, and more. But he also issued a warning to Hendrix to “be careful what you say from here on out,” because “you will answer to the Lord for everything that is said against me and His people.”