A Nigerian couple were on Tuesday arraigned in a court in Wisconsin, USA over the death of their 15-year-old son who allegedly died of starvation from religious fasting.
Kehinde Omosebi, 49, and Titilayo Omosebi, 47, were also charged with child neglect causing great bodily harm after another son, 11, was found alive but extremely emaciated from the fast that the man told police began on July 17.
Reedsburg Police Chief, Timothy Becker, said police had to break through padlocked doors to reach the boys at a residence on Alexander Avenue on the west side of the city after Mr Omosebi alerted them Sunday that his son, named Ayanfe, had died there.
The Omosebis’ 11-year-old son was so weak when police arrived that he couldn’t walk out of the residence on his own and had a hard time talking, according to the criminal complaint. The boy was holding onto a Bible and an envelope that police said contained pamphlets about death, which were handed out to officers when they arrived at the residence, the complaint said.
Omosebi, who is from Nigeria, made up a story about being the minister of a church called the “Cornerstone Reformation Ministries,” according to Becker.
“He is not affiliated with any church that has any public records proving their existence,” Becker said.
Judge Wendy J.N. Klicko set bail at $5,000 for Omosebi, who made his initial court appearance via closed circuit television from the Sauk County Jail in Baraboo. As a condition of bail, Klicko ordered him to have no contact with his surviving son. An initial court hearing for Titilayo Omosebi was delayed.
Both parents are eating again, according to Becker.
Assistant District Attorney Linda A. Hoffman asked for the $5,000 bail because she said the Omosebis are a flight risk.
Hoffman said Omosebi told police he believes he has done nothing wrong and that his family was planning to move to Atlanta.
Omosebi told police that his family had fasted previously but this one was the longest. He said they were waiting for the “blessing from God” and that the fast was supposed to end on Friday, which was the day his son died.
He also told police that they were moving to Atlanta because God told him to move there.
His wife told police that they needed God’s blessing before they could move. She said the fasting began July 19 while their surviving son said it began on July 20.
The boy told police that he was allowed only to drink water during the fast.