Invisible Children

4 Children by Ryan and Sheila O’Leary

Content note: Case narratives include descriptions of severe violence inflicted on children, including abuse and neglect, sexual violence, torture, and murder, as well as mentions of suicide and domestic violence. They also include photos of victims and perpetrators of violence.

Sheila O’Leary (L) and Ryan O’Leary (R)

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
Cape Coral, Florida


Documents: Date:
Cape Coral parents facing homicide charges in starvation of toddler, neglect of two other children 11-07-2019
‘There were no red flags’: Neighbors of couple accused of starving child to death report children appeared healthy 11-08-2019
Cape Coral 18-month-old weighed 17 lbs — as much as average 7-month-old — at time of death 11-12-2019
Vegan couple charged in malnutrition death of 18-month-old son. He weighed as much as child less than half his age, never saw a doctor. 11-25-2019
Florida vegan couple charged with murder after 18-month-old baby starves to death 12-22-2019