US couple who fled to New Zealand after son died jailed for neglect

Seth Johnson died in 2015
Seth Johnson died in 2015 Photo credit: YouCaring

An American couple who moved to New Zealand after the death of their son are now facing a year in jail for neglect. 

Seven-year-old Seth Johnson died in his own vomit in 2015 after feeling sick for weeks on end. Instead of seeking medical help his parents prayed over him, increased his vitamins and gave him 'medical honey' to fix the problem. 

The couple, Timothy and Sarah Johnson from Minnesota, adopted Seth just three years prior to his death and had diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder.

In the days before his death he wasn't sleeping and would shake at times but he was left in the care of his 16-year-old brother while the Johnsons went out of town, according to the Star Tribune. 

The couple told police they never took Seth to see doctors as they didnt want him to be given modern medication, as they thought treating him according to their own research would be better. 

Doctors later discovered Seth died of an acute inflamed pancreas and possible sepsis. His body was covered in sores, indicating he also had immobility issues. 

In 2016 his parents moved to Auckland with their surviving family where they were then charged by US authorities with child neglect, Stuff reported.

The couple stayed were in New Zealand until their visa was declined in 2022.

They pleaded guilty but Hennepin County District Judge Carolina Lamas denied their request for probation and they received the maximum one-year sentence for gross misdemeanour child neglect, eight years after the death of their son.