Teen from Faith-Healing Family Dies at Home

Police do not expect criminal charges; boy reportedly refused treatment.

ByABC News
June 18, 2008, 5:55 PM

June 18, 2008— -- A 16-year-old boy whose family relies on faith rather than medical treatment has died after suffering from stomach pain and shortness of breath, police said.

Gladstone, Ore., police said the boy's relatives, members of the Followers of Christ Church, told police that he had refused medical treatment after becoming ill a week ago. Under state law, anyone over 14 has the right to refuse treatment.

The 16-year-old, Neil Beagley, suffered from an inflammation in his urethra, a tube leading from his bladder, which made him unable to urinate, Deputy State Medical Examiner Dr. Clifford Nelson told ABC News affiliate KATU-TV in Portland.

Beagley filled up with urine, and that eventually ruined his bladder, kidneys and heart, said Nelson. He called it "an absolutely horrible way to die."

The teen's condition could have been treated with the use of a catheter, however, Nelson said.

Sgt. Lynne Benton said the case was referred to the district attorney's office but did not expect charges to be filed.

"They said he declined medical attention," she said. "That's the story that the family told us during the investigation. I don't think we're going to be able to disprove that statement."

The Clackamas County district attorney's office declined to comment.

Benton said officers and a medical examiner were called to the Beagley home about an hour after his death late Tuesday afternoon, after church members called the medical examiner. Family members told police that the boy had become ill about a week earlier, Benton said.

A phone message left at the Beagley residence was not returned.

The boy is the uncle of Ava Worthington, a 15-month-old girl who died after her parents did not seek medical treatment for her. Her parents, Carl and Raylene Worthington, also members of the Followers of Christ Church, were indicted in March on criminal mistreatment and manslaughter charges and are awaiting trial.