Parents Pick Prayer Over Docs; Girl Dies
WESTON, Wis. — Police are investigating an 11-year-old girl's death from an undiagnosed, treatable form of diabetes after her parents chose to pray for her rather than take her to a doctor.
An autopsy showed Madeline Neumann died Sunday of diabetic ketoacidosis, a condition that left too little insulin in her body, Everest Metro Police Chief Dan Vergin said.
She had probably been ill for about a month, suffering symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, excessive thirst, loss of appetite and weakness, the chief said Wednesday, noting that he expects to complete the investigation by Friday and forward the results to the district attorney.
The girl's mother, Leilani Neumann, said that she and her family believe in the Bible and that healing comes from God, but that they do not belong to an organized religion or faith, are not fanatics and have nothing against doctors.
She insisted her youngest child, a wiry girl known to wear her straight brown hair in a ponytail, was in good health until recently.
"We just noticed a tiredness within the past two weeks," she said Wednesday. "And then just the day before and that day (she died), it suddenly just went to a more serious situation. We stayed fast in prayer then. We believed that she would recover. We saw signs that to us, it looked like she was recovering."
Her daughter — who hadn't seen a doctor since she got some shots as a 3-year-old, according to Vergin — had no fever and there was warmth in her body, she said.
The girl's father, Dale Neumann, a former police officer, said he started CPR "as soon as the breath of life left" his daughter's body.
Family members elsewhere called authorities to seek help for the girl.
"My sister-in-law, she's very religious, she believes in faith instead of doctors ...," the girl's aunt told a sheriff's dispatcher Sunday afternoon in a call from California. "And she called my mother-in-law today ... and she explained to us that she believes her daughter's in a coma now and she's relying on faith."
The dispatcher got more information from the caller and asked whether an ambulance should be sent.
"Please," the woman replied. "I mean, she's refusing. She's going to fight it. ... We've been trying to get her to take her to the hospital for a week, a few days now."
The aunt called back with more information on the family's location, emergency logs show. Family friends also made a 911 call from the home. Police and paramedics arrived within minutes and immediately called for an ambulance that took her to a hospital.
But less than an hour after authorities reached the home, Madeline — a bright student who left public school for home schooling this semester — was declared dead.
She is survived by her parents and three older siblings.
"We are remaining strong for our children," Leilani Neumann said. "Only our faith in God is giving us strength at this time."
The Neumanns said they moved from California to a modern, middle-class home in woodsy Weston, just outside Wassau in central Wisconsin, about two years ago to open a coffee shop and be closer to other relatives. A basketball hoop is set up in the driveway.
Leilani Neumann said she and her husband are not worried about the investigation because "our lives are in God's hands. We know we did not do anything criminal. We know we did the best for our daughter we knew how to do."