MELBOURNE, Australia – Police have charged 12 members of a religious group with murder in connection with the death of Elizabeth Strohs, 8, of Queensland several months ago. Police say she was denied care for days due to an underlying medical condition.
After Elizabeth died in January, her parents, Jason Strohs, 50, and Keri Strohs, 47, were charged with murder, torture, and failure to provide for the necessities of life. They face life imprisonment for murder. They have not yet entered pleas.
On Tuesday, after a six-month investigation, police charged 12 more people with the murder, all members of a small, isolated religious group. Authorities said those people, aged between 19 and 65, had been with Elizabeth before her death but had not sought help due to her deteriorating condition.
Acting Detective Inspector Gary Watts of Queensland Police said on Wednesday that the 12 people plus Elizabeth’s parents were “present during the six days she was ill”. “They actively participated in this post and did not provide any medical assistance the child needed during those six days.”
Police said they believed Elizabeth died on January 7 at her family home, but that emergency medical workers were not called until the following afternoon.
Footage released by police showed officers raiding a home in Toowoomba early Tuesday and arresting 12 people inside.
Elizabeth’s sister Jaydee Strohs, 24, has spoken out against her parents’ religious group.
Ms Stroh, the eldest of eight children, said she left home to distance herself from her parents and the group at age 16 when she realized she was a lesbian.
She said the group did not celebrate Christmas, believed that the members’ sole purpose was to serve God and did not accept medical intervention.
“No outside help, no drugs, no Panadol, no doctors, no dentists, nothing,” she said in an interview. “It was all” God will heal. “
She added that the group said it had no name and declared that they were “the people of God or Jesus”.
Describing her sister as a “really smart little 8-year-old” who loves pranks, she said she has diabetes and needs insulin. Police have not identified the untreated medical condition that led to Elizabeth’s death.
Ms. Strohs wrote in a letter GoFundMe After Elizabeth’s death, she began to raise funds to support her other brothers.
“We were faced with the brutal reality that the people who should have protected her didn’t, and we may never know the full extent of what happened,” she wrote.
Detective Watts said that 14 people charged with murder in connection with the death of one child was unusual. “I definitely haven’t seen him in my nearly 40 years of policing.”