Australian police on Tuesday arrested 12 members of a religious group who allegedly prayed for an 8-year-old Queensland girl as she lay dying, rather than providing life-saving insulin. Earlier this year, the girl's parents, Jason and Kerrie Struhs, were arrested and charged with murder, torture, and failing to provide the necessities of life. Now, police have accused fellow members of a religious sect of contributing to the Jan. 7 death of Elizabeth Struhs, who had Type-1 diabetes, at a home in Toowoomba's Rangeville neighborhood. There was no attempt to get the girl outside help over six days, according to Queensland Police, who were notified of the death on Jan. 8, per the BBC.
"In my 40 years of policing, I've never faced a matter like this," Regional Crime Coordinator Det. Acting Supt. Garry Watts says, per the BBC. "And I'm not aware of a similar event in Queensland, let alone Australia." On a GoFundMe page raising money to support the youngest of Elizabeth's seven surviving siblings, eldest sister Jayde Struhs writes that she ran away from home at 16 to escape "the fear driven and controlling beliefs" of her parents' "cult." "They take the religion to its (extremes), separating us from the real world and extended family who did not believe," she writes.
The seven women and five men arrested Tuesday in Toowoomba's Harrisburg neighborhood "were aware of the child's condition, were present during the course of those six days at the Rangeville address, and did not take any steps to provide medical assistance to the child," Watts tells the Brisbane Times. Aged 19 to 65, they are also to be charged with murder and are due in court on Wednesday. In March, Jason and Kerrie Struhs told a court they would not seek legal advice and would represent themselves in court, per News.com.au. They are due back in front of a judge later this month. (Read more child murder stories.)