Faith healer parents probed in child death

Denver Rocky Mountain News/February 7, 2001
By Ellen Miller

Grand Junction -- Mesa County deputies are investigating the parents of a 13-year-old Clifton girl who died Monday without receiving medical care, Mesa sheriff's spokesman Janet Prell said Tuesday.

A factor in the investigation, Prell said, is the parents' membership in the General Assembly Church of the First Born, a close-knit Christian sect with several congregations in Mesa County and in other states. Faith healing is a core component of their beliefs.

Amanda Bates, 13, died late Monday at Presbyterian/St. Luke's Medical Center in Denver, Prell said. The girl was not breathing when paramedics responded to a 911 call at a residence and took her to St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction. She was transferred to Presbyterian/St. Luke's later in the day.

Prell wouldn't disclose who made the 911 call, the address, or the suspected cause or circumstances surrounding the girl's death. She said an autopsy will be performed today by Dr. Rob Kurtzman, a forensic pathologist who serves as Mesa County coroner.

Mesa County District Attorney Frank Daniels said Tuesday that he received initial reports from sheriff's investigators but will wait for autopsy results and information from additional police interviews before deciding whether charges should be filed. He identified the girl's parents as Colleen and Randy Bates. Efforts to contact them Tuesday for comment were unsuccessful.

The case follows several deaths involving members of the church. In 1999, a church couple pleaded guilty in Mesa County to child abuse resulting in death after the death of their 18-day-old son, Warren Glory. The infant died of pneumonia and meningitis in February 1999. Josh and Mindy Glory were sentenced to a 16 years' probation and ordered to seek medical care, when required, for their surviving child.

In another 1999 case, a baby boy died three days after his birth at the family home. Officials determined that Billy Ray Reed died of a congenital heart disease. No charges were brought against his parents despite the coroner's opinion that the child might have survived had he received routine medical care or been monitored by doctors.

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