A thirteen-year-old boy died after a “Master Herbalist” convinced his mother to treat his type 1 diabetes with herbs and lavender oil. Timothy Morrow, 84, the herbalist, was arrested in connection to the death of Edgar Lopez. Morrow’s case concluded yesterday with his sentencing, but the story of young Edgar is a cautionary tale to parents not to trust individuals that push alternative medicine to treat disease.
Edgar Lopez was a teenager that had type 1 diabetes. His diabetes had been managed with insulin through the care of his doctors.
For a short period, Edgar’s diabetes entered a honeymoon period and his blood sugars stabilized. During this time, his endocrinologist took him off insulin. Even though Edgar didn’t need insulin at that time, the doctor told Maria Madrigal, Edgar’s mother, that the honeymoon period would not last.
While in the “honeymoon” period, Maria began using supplements to help treat her son’s diabetes. Around this time, is when Maria met Morrow.
In 2014, Edgar Lopez’s mother, Maria Madrigal attended an herbal class hosted by Timothy Morrow. Morrow of Torrance, California operated a company called Common Sense Herbs. In his seminar, the herbalist shared the healing properties of herbs, oils, and reflexology.
After completing the seminar, Madrigal contacted Morrow to discuss treatment for her son’s type 1 diabetes. In her meeting with Morrow, the herbalist told her that he could treat Edgar’s diabetes with herbs and essential oils.
In court, Maria testified that Morrow told her that doctors were evil and that insulin was poison. As their relationship grew, she said that he reinforced the belief that hospitals only exist to keep patients sick and that she should not trust Edgar’s doctors.
“He told me that everything I got from the doctors were things from the devil,” Maria testified.
Edgar’s brother, Daniel Lopez, echoed her sentiments during his testimony at Morrow’s trial. Daniel stated that Morrow told them that the health care industry was in business to keep people ill and warned them against insulin.
“He told us that it was evil and it was a man-made product in order to keep doctors in business,” Daniel shared.
For months Morrow chipped away at the family’s trust in the health care industry. The herbalist convinced the family that an herbal supplement he sold called “Pancreas Reg,” could treat Edgar’s diabetes. Maria testified that the Morrow told her that the supplement was part of God’s pharmacy.
By the time Edgar became critically ill, the family says they were completely brainwashed and fully trusted Morrow and his medical advice.
In August of 2014, Edgar became extremely ill as a result of his untreated diabetes. Instead of calling a doctor, Maria called Morrow to help her. On the boy’s last days of life, the herbalist made multiple trips to the family’s home to treat Edgar and provide medical advice.
Maria testified that Edgar was having trouble breathing, weak, and begged her to take him to the hospital. Instead of taking him to the hospital, she called Morrow. The herbalist told her not to take him to the hospital. He said that if she took Edgar to the hospital, the doctors would kill him.
When Morrow arrived at their home, he told Maria and her husband, Delfino, that he could diagnose Edgar by looking in his eyes. After peering into Edgar’s irises, he instructed the family to rub lavender oil on his back.
Unfortunately, the boy’s condition did not improve, and his breathing became more labored. Concerned, the family told Morrow that Edgar seemed to be in more pain than he was before the treatment.
The herbalist responded by telling the family that Edgar had entered a “healing crisis.” According to Morrow, a “healing crisis” is when the body becomes iller to heal itself.
Doubtful of this explanation, Daniel went online to search for videos from other herbalists to verify Morrow’s claims. After watching several videos, Daniel said other herbalists echoed the notion that a “healing crisis” was a sign of the body improving.
Frantically, the family called for help; dispatch instructed them to perform chest compressions on Edgar. Sadly, the teenager died from cardiac arrest.
Following Edgar’s death, the medical examiner performed an autopsy. The report concluded that he died from complications of untreated diabetes. Additionally, the medical examiner noted that had Edgar been adequately treated for the disease he would have survived.
Not long after the boy’s death, California police arrested Morrow for practicing medicine without a license and child abuse resulting in great bodily harm or death.
His trial for the charges began in February 2019. Prosecutors laid out a meticulous case against the herbalist and how he contributed to the death of Edgar.
Morrow’s defense argued that he did not force Maria to withhold insulin. Additionally, the defense said Maria was already using supplements to treat Edgar before Morrow met her.
When the trial closed, the jury convicted Morrow on the charge of practicing medicine without a license. But the jury was deadlocked on the child abuse charge. As a result, the judge declared a mistrial on the child abuse charge.
Only days later, Morrow accepted a plea offer from Prosecutors on the reduced charges for the child abuse. He pleaded no contest to one charge of child abuse likely to produce great bodily harm or death.
At his sentencing, the judge handed Morrow a 120-day prison sentence, four years of probation, a $5,000.00 fine, and Morrow has to reimburse the family for Edgar’s funeral expenses. A condition of his plea agreement is that Morrow must take down all of his YouTube videos and website that promote his business.
Edgar Lopez should have never died from type 1 diabetes. Diabetes is a manageable illness with proper glucose monitoring and insulin.
Unfortunately, his mother decided to trust Morrow who poisoned her brain with lies so that he could profit off Edgar’s illness. Now the family will never see Edgar grow to become a man.
Morrow is the worst kind of snake oil salesman. He did not care that a boy was dying. While the boy slipped away from life, he convinced the family that he was “healing.”
At 84 years old, it seems extremely unlikely that a 120-day prison sentence will change his mind or stop him from harming other people.
*Katie Joy is a columnist and hosts Without A Crystal Ball on Patheos Non-Religious Channel. She writes articles on parenting, disability advocacy, debunking pseudoscience, atheism, and crimes against women and children.
She co-hosts the YouTube show, “The Smoking Nun,” with Kyle Curtis. The show airs weekly and tackles pseudoscience, current events, and crime stories.
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