SOLON TOWNSHIP, MI (WOOD) — A Kent County, Michigan couple charged with felony murder and first-degree child abuse in the starvation death of their 10-month-old daughter didn’t seek medical help partly for religious reasons, court records show.
Seth Welch and his wife, Tatiana Fusari, both 27, were formally charged Monday in Thursday’s death of Mary Anne Welch.
An autopsy determined the baby died of malnutrition and dehydration.
Kent County Sheriff’s detectives interviewed both parents.
“During interviews with both parents, admissions were made that they were aware of Mary Welch’s skinny appearance and low weight for at least one month prior to this date,” according to an affidavit signed by a detective.
“Tatiana Fusari admitted during the interview that they failed to reach out for medical help with their daughter for fear of having her children removed by Child Protective Services, lack of faith and trust in the medical services and religious reasons,” the affidavit states.
Deputies say the father called 911 just after noon on Thursday to report his daughter was found dead in her crib at their home on Algoma Avenue NE near 20 Mile Road in Solon Township.
The couple was raising three young children and ran Blackacre Farm Products at their home.
At the home, Seth Welch displayed his faith on handpainted signs nailed to trees and on the fence out front. “Repent. Believe. Obey,” one message painted in white reads.
CPS, their distrust of doctors and their religious beliefs have been topics of some of Seth Welch’s rambling videos on Facebook.
On doctors: “They’re priesthoods of the medical cult,” he said.
On vaccines: “The righteous shall live by faith. It’s God who is sovereign over disease and those sorts of things and, of course, ultimately deaths.”
He says someone called CPS about him when he at first refused to get his oldest daughter vaccinated, and that he didn’t get his other two kids, including Mary, vaccinated.
“It didn’t seem smart that you would be saving people who weren’t the fittest,” he said in one video. “If evolution believes in survival of the fittest, why are we vaccinating everybody? Shouldn’t we just let the weak die off and let the strong survive?”
He also spoke against wordly things.
“I would love to see a commune of Christian disciples living off the grid somewhere, and just living free,” he said.
On Monday, CPS filed a neglect case against the parents involving their two older children, ages 4 and 2, who were staying at his parent’s home in West Olive.
On Facebook, Welch recently wrote that his wife is pregnant with their fourth child.
***CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the mother as Tatania. We regret this error, which has since been corrected.***