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Prosecutor: Parents accused of letting sick child die have fled country

MINNEAPOLIS -- A prosecutor says a Minnesota couple charged in the death of their 7-year-old son may have absconded to New Zealand.

Timothy and Sarah Johnson are accused of gross misdemeanor child neglect for failing to get medical help for their adopted son, Seth, who died in March 2015.

The Johnsons didn’t show up at their first court appearance Tuesday in Hennepin County. Assistant Hennepin County Attorney John Halla told Judge Gina Brandt that the couple has moved to New Zealand. Brandt issued warrants for their arrests.

In the days before Seth’s death, his parents were out of town for a wedding, leaving their son in the care of an older sibling, reported CBS Minnesota. The night they returned, the Johnsons found their son nearly motionless and said he didn’t react when they “prayed for his health.”

 They decided to consider in the morning whether or not their son needed to see a doctor.

When the parents woke up, they found Seth unresponsive and called 911. Criminal complaints say Seth had bruises on his body on a vomit-covered mattress. His legs were covered in blisters, and the boy’s weight was exceptionally low for a child his age. 

An autopsy showed the child’s cause of death was acute pancreatitis and possible sepsis. The Star Tribune reports the Johnsons told investigators they relied on their own research to deal with Seth’s illness and didn’t want him on any medication.

The parents had “issues going to doctors,” CBS Minnesota reported.

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