Albany Parents Arrested for Manslaughter

ALBANY, Ore. — An Albany couple is being charged for manslaughter, after Albany police say they did not provide medical attention to their 12-year-old daughter who died earlier this year.

Travis Rossiter, 39, and Wenona Rossiter, 37, of Albany turned themselves in on Thursday morning after police told them they would be arrested in the connection of Syble Rossiter’s death.

Syble, a sixth grader at Calapooia Middle School, died on Feb. 5 after suffering from a treatable medical condition, police say.

The State Medical Examiner’s Office says Syble had diabetes, and died of diabetic ketoacidosis.

Though the Albany Police Department won’t comment about her condition, investigators say it was common and non life-threatening.

“What the investigation ultimately revealed was that the 12-year-old had a treatable medical condition, and the parents did not provide adequate and necessary care to that child, and that, unfortunately, resulted in her death,” said Captain Eric Carter with Albany Police.

Carter says officers responded to the Rossiters residence in Albany in February, when somebody in the household called 911 after Syble had passed away.

“Responding officers immediately recognized that this was out of the ordinary just based on the age and the circumstances,” Carter said. “The investigation showed that this was a condition any reasonable parent should have been aware of; should have provided medical care and treatment. And they chose not to.”

Carter says the family belongs to the Church of the First Born, a group that has different beliefs in medical practices. According to one of the organization’s websites, the group believes in healing through prayer. However, the site also says: “The government laws are there to protect the public in general…avoid epidemics that could effect the health and welfare of others… they have the right to take the child and minister medical aid… so we are to respect the government rights and in no way do we recommend that any of our people try to defy those laws.”

Investigators say they do not know if the parents’ faith was a factor for not providing medical care to their daughter.

“I really don’t want to make that leap,” Carter said. “I mean yes, they do belong to a church that does have that as a belief system, but I don’t know to what degree this couple believed in that or practiced that.”

KEZI 9 News tried contacting the church, but have not yet heard back.

Police say the couple has two other children, and the Department of Human Services is making sure they are being taken care of. The Rossiters, who are being charged with manslaughter in the first and second degree, will be arraigned on Friday afternoon at the Linn County Courthouse.

Doctors with Lane County Health and Human Services say Diabetic ketoacidosis is treatable.

Dr. Patrick Luedtke, Lane County Chief Medical Officer, says the condition occurs when there’s a chemical buildup from the body’s lack of control of diabetes and when there’s too much acid in the bloodstream. According to the American Diabetes Association, it can lead to a diabetic coma or even death.

Current medicine can help control the DKA.

“It’s dependent on how fast they get in the hospital,” said Dr. Patrick Luedtke, Lane County Chief Medical Officer. “How quickly they get into see a doc two to three percent of people who get this will die. Typically people who’ve waited too long to get their care.”

There is a test that people with diabetes have that can register the chemical build up.

For symptoms of DKA, click here.

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