Baby dies after medical care withheld

Denver Post/March 3, 1999
By Nancy Lofholm

Grand Junction -- Mesa County authorities are investigating the death of an infant as a possible homicide after his parents withheld medical treatment because of religious beliefs.

Warren T. Glory, born Feb. 10, died of cardiac arrest Sunday after an infectious disease was not treated, authorities said Tuesday. His 23- and 22-year-old parents, Joshua and Mindy Glory, are members of the General Assembly Church of the First Born, a strict fundamentalist sect with members who use prayer to heal and do not believe in doctors or medicine. The Glorys have two other children.

Warren is the fourth Western Slope child of Church of the First Born parents to die after the parents withheld medical care.

Investigators think the parents withheld medical treatment because of their religious beliefs, said Mesa County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Janet Prell.

Mesa County sheriff's deputies and Grand Junction Fire Department rescue workers were called to the Glorys rural home at 2987 Globe Willow Lane on Sunday evening on a report of an infant in cardiac arrest. They were unable to revive the 18-day-old infant, and he was pronounced dead at St. Mary's Hospital.

Prell said her office is investigating and is awaiting autopsy results before turning the matter over to the district attorney's office for possible prosecution.

Mesa County pathologist Dr. Rob Kurtzman said his autopsy was not complete. But he said the child died from a natural disease process and showed no signs of physical abuse. He said he must analyze more test results before he rules on the manner of death.

Kurtzman said others who came in contact with the child could be "at high risk'' of contracting the infectious disease that led to Warren's death. He is not naming the disease at this time, but he said it is medically treatable.

In the other cases involving the General Assembly Church of the First Born:

In 1982, 14-year-old Travis Drake of Grand Junction died several days after his appendix ruptured. His parents were not charged because a social worker had visited the boy several days before he died and said his condition had improved.

In 1987, newborn Lucas Long of Delta died hours after his breech birth at the home of his parents. Charges were not filed because there were questions whether Lucas would have survived even with medical care.

In 1990, 7-year-old Angela Sweet of Olathe died following a two-month case of appendicitis. She died of massive infection after her appendix ruptured. Her parents were charged with felony child abuse.

A fifth death of a Grand Junction infant was never publicized because the manner of death was listed as "natural.'' In that case, Kurtzman said, the baby would have died even with medical treatment.

Kurtzman said he has seen other cases of adult members of the church dying without medical care, but Colorado law applies only to withholding medical treatment from minors.

The Church of the First Born has several hundred members in the Grand and Uncompahgre valleys. The church the Glorys attend is in a rural area near Clifton.

The Glorys and church elders will hold graveside services for Warren Glory today at the Pea Green Cemetery near Delta.

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