Details about the cause of child deaths in faith-healing sects are hard to come by, as are photographs. Mostly what we have are photos of the grave markers. Public records and in some cases the testimony of relatives have given us information on the few Followers of Christ children below. None of them got any medical attention. Links to autopsy or coroner’s reports are included where they are available. Readers should be advised; some of the details are graphic.


Emerson Joe Anderson

In 2017 Emerson Joe Anderson died at three years old after suffering seizures for two years. His mother said the seizures generally followed times of stress or extreme fatigue, or initially a high fever. Toward the end of his life the seizures came about every three weeks and two or three times a day. The family of five children lived in a camp trailer off a dirt road in rural Parma. The children were home schooled. The parents belong to the Followers of Christ and never sought medical attention for Emerson. The coroner found the cause of death to be gastric aspiration likely due to seizure disorder.

(Coroner’s report)



Arrian Jade Granden

Arrian Jade Granden, a victim of religion-based child abuse in IdahoIn 2012 Arrian, 15, died at her home in Parma, Idaho, after suffering nausea and vomiting for three days. She became weak and lethargic and unable to eat or drink. She was unconscious for four or five hours and then suffered cardiac arrest. The pathologist found gastrointestinal hemorrhage and a ruptured esophagus.

Besides her parents many family and friends were in her home when public officials arrived, but no one had called for medical help.

Arrian had five brothers and two sisters; she was the third oldest. In many ways, Arrian was a typical teen-age girl. She loved snowboarding and running track. She was a bit obsessed with boys, was fond of both elegant dresses and torn jeans, and loved to take pictures with her girlfriends. A few months before her death she had gotten a new dog. The last posting on her Facebook page was simply, “Can’t wait for school.”. (Autopsy report)


Cooper Jay ShippyCooper Jay Shippy, victim of religion-based child abuse in Idaho

In 2010 Cooper died at 1 year, 11 months, from complications of Type 1 diabetes. (Coroner’s report)


Steven Paul Hughes

Ssteven paul hughes gravestoneteven was born with spina bifida and Arnold Chiari malformation; steven paul hugheshe died from untreated bronchial pneumonia at the age of 2 in 1982. According to his aunt, he never received any form of therapy for his birth defects and was not allowed the use of a wheelchair or any other adaptive equipment.

The aunt was not notified that Steven had been ill, because the Followers are afraid that ex-members like the aunt may turn the family into Child Protective Services

The aunt also said that Steven’s grandmother, who was present at his birth, claimed he had been born with a tail. She probably had that impression because of the spina bifida. She thought he was possessed by the devil. (Coroner’s report)


Micah Taylor Eellsmicah taylor eells gravestone

In 2013 Micah died at four days old with a bowel obstruction and sepsis. Such a blockage usually causes extreme pain and repeated vomiting. The birth had been unattended. No autopsy was performed, but the coroner’s external examination found the belly distended and hardened and the scrotum sac swollen to four times normal size.  (Coroner’s report)


JJerry reverry Lane Gardiner

Jerry died in 1980 from untreated diabetes at the age of 11. According to his cousin, Jerry’s mother knew he was diabetic and tried to control his type 1 diabetes with diet. He had symptoms of diabetes for several weeks before he went into a diabetic coma.

Jerry was the third of four children to die in his family and the only one to live past birth.   He had been a large baby, and the midwives pulled on him so hard that they broke his arm. One of the church elders applied a crude plaster cast.


Kraig Gardiner, Darren L. Gardiner & Scott James Gardiner

Kraig, Darren, and Scott were Jerry’s brothers. All three died at birth.  No autopsies were done, but Rh factor blood group incompatibility was the suspected cause of death in all three cases. With prenatal care, harm to babies is routinely prevented by treating the mother during pregnancy. In compliance with Followers of Christ beliefs, however, Mrs. Gardiner had no prenatal care and the births were attended only by unlicensed church midwives.


Pamela Jade Eells

In 2011 Pamela Eells died of pneumonia at 16 years old in New Plymouth. She had long suffered from chronic osteomyelitis in her pelvic bone and then slowly drowned as her lungs filled with fluid.
Dr. Charles Garrison performed the autopsy. He was frank: “If you’ve ever been in a situation where you can’t breathe, it’s pretty desperate. You’re drowning in your own flpamela jade eellsuids. It’s inexplicable to me to comprehend how anyone can watch a child die and do nothing.” (Coroner’s report)


Garrett Dean Eells

In 2013 Garrett died of interstitial pneumonitis at six days old.  He had been in respiratory distress since birth. (Autopsy report)


Jackson Scott Porter

In 2013 Jackson, a baby girl, died in distress twenty minutes after birth. The coroner gave the cause of death as extreme prematurity. He also stated that the mother had received no prenatal care because it was against her religion. (Autopsy report)


Preston John Bowerspreston john bowers

In 2011 Preston died at 22 months old of pneumonia.  The coroner thought he had Down syndrome. (Coroner’s report)


Rockwell Alexander Sevy

In 2011 Rocky died on his mother’s lap at fourteen years old of pneumonia. He had been feverish and coughing for about two weeks. His burial place is unknown. (Coroner’s report)


Mackenna Ryan Milburn mackenna Ryan Milburn

In 2011 Mackenna died nine hours after birth in New Plymouth of what the coroner called “sudden unexplained infant death.” Autopsy performed. (Coroner’s report)


Teresa May Milburn

In 2013 Teresa was stillborn due to anoxia (lack of oxygen). She was delivered breech after her mother was in hard labor for two days.  (Coroner’s report)teresa may milburn


Memphis Lee Morris

In 2012 Memphis died in Marsing one hour after birth due to infection of fetal membranes and kidney abnormality.  (Coroner’s report)


Oliver Samuel Shippyoliver samuel shippy

In 2013 Oliver died in Caldwell at 22 hours old due to meconium aspiration syndrome, a condition caused by a baby’s first stool being present in the lungs before or during delivery. The mother said he had struggled to breathe since birth.  (Autopsy report)