Did religious preference lead to Lincoln County boy’s death?

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CHANDLER, Okla. -- Lincoln County authorities are investigating the untimely death of a 4-year-old boy who passed away last week at the family's home, north of Chandler, after having a fever.

Authorities want to know if the family's religious preference may have led to his death.

Members of Church of the Firstborn in the Parkland community tell us some in the congregation only ask the church "elders" to heal the sick, not doctors.

"They believed that God was going to heal him," member Margie Herrmann said.

Margie and Elvis Herrmann said several members of their church simply do not believe in going to doctors.

The Lincoln County Sheriff said the parents of 4-year-old Troy Damelio attend the same church.

They told authorities Troy had been running a fever for a week.

Deputies found the father holding his deceased son in their living room.

"Well yeah, I suppose they would be (responsible for the boy's death)," Elvis said. "Because you're responsible for your kids."

"The children don't have no choice," Margie said. "I mean, an adult, you don't have to go because you're an adult. But a little kid, he can't tell (his parents), 'Take me to the doctor.'"

"They're helpless," legal analyst Garvin Isaacs said of children. "We have a duty to protect the elderly (as well). They're helpless. That's what the law is all about."

Isaacs said regardless of religious beliefs, a manslaughter charge could be filed in this type of case if the district attorney believes there was negligence for the boy's safety.

"(He will decide) whether or not the reckless disregard to the boy's health amounted to criminal misconduct and if it did, what is the appropriate punishment," Isaacs said.

The Church of the Firstborn website states, "If you choose not to take your child to a doctor then we urge you to immediately notify "the County Health Department" and the "State Department of Human Services."

Margie said there's a reason members don't have complete faith in doctors.

"If the doctors could save people's lives, they would save themselves and they can't save themselves," she said.

Friends of the family told News Channel 4 that the parents were not home Wednesday afternoon.

The Lincoln County D.A. can't comment until the cause of the boy's death is determined and the Medical Examiner's office said the autopsy still pending.

Funeral services for the boy were held Monday.