Choose Country and Language

Cape Coral mother in court Wednesday, accused of starving child to death

Lee County Sheriff's Office

A Cape Coral mother accused of starving one of her children to death and neglecting the others goes on trial Wednesday morning.

Sheila and Ryan O’Leary, 38 and 33, are accused of starving their 18-month-old son to death and neglecting their other three children, causing one to have to get surgery because her teeth were so rotten. They were ages 3, 5, and 11 years old at the time of the arrest in November 2019.

The mother called 911 in September when she noticed her son was not breathing and felt cold, according to a police report. She tried to resuscitate the baby, but he was dead when paramedics arrived.

Both parents pleaded not guilty to all charges—first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter of a child, two counts of child neglect and one count of child abuse—in 2019 and are in jail without bond.

In the initial report, the couple told police they are vegan and eat only raw fruits and vegetables.

“The evidence and crime scene in this case are gut-wrenching. These are images as a mother and State Attorney I will not be able to forget,” Fox said.

Court for Sheila O’Leary began at 8:30 a.m. and jury selection is underway.

Joey Pellegrino

Stop Child Abuse

There are many ways you can get involved and make a difference to prevent child abuse. Take action and choose what works best for you.