Severely malnourished boy, 13, escapes home after being forced on vegan diet, parents charged
A malnourished 13-year-old boy who was forced to follow a vegan diet escaped his Ohio home, leading authorities to arrest his parents, the Bucyrus Telegraph-Forum reports.
The unidentified teenager was found miles away by residents in Galion, Crawford County Prosecutor Matt Crall said Tuesday. At the time, he purportedly weighed just 65 pounds.
According to police reports, the boy's father and stepmother, John P. and Katrina Miller, had demanded that their son follow a strict diet.
"The child had a very strict ... vegan diet that basically consisted of almonds, bananas and grapes," Crall said. "He had to have everything eaten in 30 minutes."
The teenager, who had also reportedly suffered from a childhood cancer as an infant and had not been checked on since, was being home-schooled at the time and would often go to church with his family.
"The child was very self-conscious about the way he looked, and he would wear multiple sets of clothing to cover up the fact that he looked the way he did," Crall explained.
Upon finding the 13-year-old, authorities took him to a hospital, where he was treated for failure to thrive, severe malnutrition and refeeding syndrome, the Telegraph-Forum notes. Doctors expect him to remain there for at least three to four weeks.
The Millers, who also had a 3-year-old child, were subsequently indicted by a grand jury on one count of kidnapping, one count of felonious assault, two felony counts of child endangerment and a misdemeanor count of child endangerment — the last of which is in relation to the 3-year-old, who was also allegedly underweight. John was additionally indicted on a charge of domestic violence, based on claims that he "committed assault on the [13-year-old] when he wouldn't eat the way they told him to eat," Crall said.
If convicted of all charges, the teenager's parents could face more than 22 years in prison. Their bond was each set at $500,000.