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Florida Mom Found Guilty Of Killing 18-Month-Old Baby With Raw Vegan Diet

vegan mom found guilty of starving baby to death

UPDATE 8/31 5:30 P.M. PST: Sheila O’Leary has been sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of all charges. Ryan O’Leary is still awaiting trial. He is jailed without bond and has not yet entered a plea.



A mother in Florida has been found guilty in the case of her son’s death from malnutrition — after admitting to feeding her children an all-raw vegetable and fruit diet.

In September 2019 police were called to the family home of Sheila and Ryan O’Leary after reports that their toddler was not breathing. The mother had fed her son earlier that morning for a minute and noticed he was having trouble breathing — but instead of contacting 911 immediately, she and her husband went back to sleep. According to the Cape Coral Police Department, paramedics were summoned to the home hours later where they pronounced 18-month-old Ezra Sage O’Leary dead at the scene.

An autopsy revealed the deceased toddler succumbed to starvation-related conditions. The child was malnourished, dehydrated, had a liver condition, and had major swelling of the hands and feet. He weighed only 17 lbs at the time of his death — as opposed to a healthy child of his age which would weigh about 25 lbs. Instead at a year and a half, he weighed in line with what a 7-month-old baby should weigh… just awful…

Related: Chilling Note Solves Mysterious Murder Of Baby Found Hidden Inside A Tire

Sheila’s other children reportedly had some medical issues as well. Her 3- and 5-year-old children were reported to be “malnourished and small for their age”. They appeared very pale, had yellowish skin, and one child even had blackened teeth from tooth decay — from which they had teeth previously pulled. An older sibling who was revealed to be from a previous relationship of O’Leary’s looked much healthier than the others. It was cited in a court document that the 11-year-old visits their father in Virginia every two months. Police believe this is why the oldest child was in better shape; they were the only one getting fed by someone else occasionally.

After the cause of death of their youngest was revealed, the parents turned themselves in to the police. When interviewed, the mother said that baby Ezra had not eaten anything but breast milk for a week leading up to his death. When asked why, she said that she “did not believe” her son had an appetite because “he was teething.” However, she also admitted that all of her children were fed a raw vegan diet consisting of mangoes, bananas, avocados, and rambutans. You can’t raise a child on rambutans. They were starving.

This was not Sheila’s first time getting in trouble for abusing her children, either. The state attorney’s office said that she had a prior case out of Virginia, after her eldest daughter had been placed in state custody for failure to thrive and severe malnutrition.

Luckily CPS removed the surviving children from the home, and the oldest sibling went to stay with her biological father in Virginia full-time. The O’Learys were both charged in the death of Ezra. The parents initially pleaded not guilty and suggested that the children weren’t malnourished at all — just “small from birth” but “perfectly healthy”.

This argument didn’t move the jury, however. On Tuesday, after a week-long trial, Sheila was found guilty for ALL of her charges: first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter, child abuse, and two counts of child neglect.

During her hearing, she kept a stoic expression on her face as the judge sentenced her to LIFE IN PRISON — after she previously rejected a 30 year plea deal.

Ryan’s court date has not yet been scheduled, but he faces the same charges as his wife. This is such a heartbreaking case for the children involved. May Ezra rest in peace.

See more from local outlet WINK (below):

[Image via Lee County Sheriff’s Office/WINK News]

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Jul 01, 2022 15:43pm PDT