Wisconsin authorities will consider filing charges in the case of an 11-year-old girl who died on Easter Sunday of complications from diabetes that went untreated because police say her parents' obscure religious beliefs do not allow medical intervention.
"When you're dealing with an 11-year-old child, your first thought is neglect," Capt. Scott Sleeter, a spokesman for the Everest Metro Police Department in Wisconsin, told ABC News.
Madeline Kara Neumann, who went by the name Kara and was the youngest child of Leilani and Dale Neumann, died Sunday of "diabetic ketoacidosis," according to a Marathon County autopsy report. Efforts were made to revive the little girl, whose diabetes had never been diagnosed, when she stopped breathing at the house, officials say.
She was transported to Saint Clare's Hospital in Weston, where she was pronounced dead.
"Basically, we're trying to understand how an 11-year-old died," Sleeter said. "We're talking to everybody who was there and everybody who may have information about her condition leading up to her death.
"Your first thoughts are, 'Did she not get what she needed to survive?'"
Police were on the way to the Neumann's rural Wisconsin home to perform a welfare check on the girl, after the Marathon County Sheriff's Office got a call from Kara's aunt, Ariel Gomez of California, expressing concern about Kara.
Before they could even get to the home, a 911 call came from the Neumann house about a medical emergency.
Gomez called the sheriff's office three times Sunday about her niece's medical condition, according to the Marathon County Sheriff's Office. "My sister-in-law is, her daughter's severely, severely sick and she believes her daughter is in a coma," Gomez is heard telling the dispatcher in one of the 911 calls released by the sheriff's office. "And, she's very religious, so she's refusing to take [Kara] to the hospital, so I was hoping maybe somebody could go over there."
Gomez asks authorities to send an ambulance, and warns the dispatcher that Leilani Neumann will fight attempts to intervene. "We've been trying to get her to take [Kara] to the hospital for a week, a few days now," Gomez tells the dispatcher.
The Neumann family has ties to the "Unleavened Bread Minstries," a little-known church that shuns modern medicine in favor of prayer. A statement posted on the organization's Web site by the founder, David Eells, says the Neumanns "contacted one of our elders to ask that I call them to pray for their daughter. That elder got in touch with me Saturday evening and I called the Neumanns."
Eells also wrote that the Neumanns have posted testimonials on their Web site but are not "'under' our minstry."
Eells does say his church does not believe in the the medical intervention.
"We are not commanded in scripture to send people to the doctor but to meet their needs through prayer and faith. As anyone here in the ministry will tell you, we are not against doctors for those who have their faith there and never condemn or restrict them in any way," Eells writes. "But we know that the best one to trust in for healing is Jesus Christ. The foundation for receiving this benefit from Him is repentance and faith in His promises."
Sleeter says when officials started to investigate the case, the Neumanns were initially cooperative, but said the couple, who have three other teenaged children, are "of the opinion that they've talked to us and there's nothing else they want to say."