Members of a religious group in southern Queensland have been charged over the death of an eight-year-old girl earlier this year.
Elizabeth Struhs died on January 7 at her home in Rangeville, Toowoomba, after she was allegedly denied insulin for the treatment of her type 1 diabetes for about six days, per the ABC.
Five men and six women have been charged as a result, with one 60-year-old man being charged with one count of murder and failing to supply the necessities of life, while the remaining eleven – aged between 19 and 65 years old – have been charged with one count of murder.
Elizabeth’s parents, Jason and Kerrie Struhs, have previously been charged with murder, torture, and failing to provide the necessities of life.
Police allege the dozen involved were aware of Elizabeth’s condition and didn’t seek medical assistance, adding that emergency services weren’t contacted until about 5.30pm on January 8.
It is alleged the parents and other members of the religious group prayed for Elizabeth’s recovery instead.
The charges laid against them come after six months of investigation by the Toowoomba Child Protection and Investigation Unit, the Child Trauma Unit, and the Homicide Investigation Unit.
More than 30 officers conducted a search at a residence in Harristown, where the 12 residents were arrested.
Detective Acting Superintendent Gary Watts said the investigation was unlike anything he had ever seen.
“In my 40 years of policing, I’ve never faced a matter like this,” he said.
“And I’m not aware of a similar event in Queensland, let alone Australia.”
According to sources that spoke to the ABC, the religious group is small, tight-knit, and has no ties to any established church in Toowoomba.
In a fundraiser set up to support Elizabeth’s siblings, her older sister Jayde Struhs said her estranged parents were part of a “fear-driven and controlling” cult that took religion to its extremes.
She said her younger sister’s death had left their extended family “completely shattered and heartbroken”.
“We have faced the brutal reality that the people who should have protected her did not, and we may never know the full extent of what took place,” she said.
The people charged in relation to Elizabeth’s death are expected to appear in court on Wednesday, while her parents will return to court later in July.
This article first appeared on OverSixty.