Four children—M., an 11-year-old girl; J., age 5; C., age 3; and K., an 18-month-old boy—were starved by their parents, Ryan Patrick O’Leary and Sheila O’Leary. K. died from complications of malnutrition. The children were homeschooled.
M. was Sheila’s child from a previous relationship. She was removed from Sheila’s care as a baby in Virginia in 2009 due to failure to thrive. According to the custody agreement, M. spent a few weeks every two months with her biological father in Virginia. J., C., and K. were all Ryan O’Leary’s biological children; the family moved to Cape Coral, Florida in late 2018. While Ryan worked, Sheila homeschooled the children; “however, law enforcement did not find evidence that the [children] were enrolled in a homeschool program.”
The O’Learys kept the family on a strict raw vegan diet, so the children were only given raw mangoes, rambutans, bananas, and avocados to eat. K. was also homebirthed and had never been seen by a doctor. J. and C. were “pale and yellowish in color” and “weighed under the third percentile for their ages”, and one of them “had blackened teeth indicating dental decay, which required surgery.” At the time of his death, K. had not had anything to eat for a week except breastmilk, and he weighed 17 lbs. M. was malnourished, but not as severely as the younger children because she was allowed to eat normally when she visited her father.
The abuse came to light when Sheila O’Leary called 911 after finding K. unresponsive. He was declared dead at the scene. The O’Learys were charged with manslaughter and child neglect.
Date: September 27, 2019
Location: Cape Coral, Florida