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Second child of faith-healing couple dies after no medical care

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A faith-healing couple serving probation for the death of their 2-year-old son is in trouble once again after a second child died.


The 8-month-old son of Herbert and Catherine Schaible, fundamentalist Christians who believe in the power of prayer ahead of modern medicine, died last week, according to Philadelphia Police spokeswoman Jillian Russell.

The couple have been serving a 10-year probation sentence in the 2009 death of 2-year-old Kent Schaible.

At a hearing Monday, Philadelphia Judge Benjamin Lerner said the Schaibles violated the most important condition of their probation: to seek medical care for their remaining children.

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Authorities have yet to file criminal charges in the death of the child last week, after he suffered with diarrhea and breathing problems for days. But charges could be filed once authorities pinpoint how the boy died. An official cause of death is pending an autopsy, according to police.

The child was taken to a funeral home by an as yet unknown individual and the undertaker alerted police, Russell said.

In 2010, a jury convicted the Schaibles, who have seven other children, of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment in Kent's death from pneumonia. The Schaibles were sentenced to probation over prison time. 

As part of their sentence, the Schaibles were required to arrange medical examinations for each of their children, to immediately consult with a doctor when a child became sick and to follow the doctor’s treatment recommendations.

During their trial, the Schaibles' lawyers said the parents were targeted because their fundamentalist Christian beliefs espouse faith healing.

Pennsylvania law says parents have a legal duty to protect their children's health and safety, although the law does not specify if or when medical care must be sought.

Prosecutors said Kent could have been saved with basic medical care -- probably even over-the-counter medication -- but the couple relied on prayer instead. Defense attorneys argued that their clients did not know how sick the child was, and their beliefs played no role in their decision.

When asked for comment outside his Rhawnhurst home Friday, Herbert Schaible, 44, told NBC10’s Chris Cato, “We don’t want to talk.”