A Florida couple is behind bars after police found their 5-month-old son extremely malnourished and near death on Wednesday. Police arrested Robert Buskey, 31, and Julia French, 20, on suspicion of child neglect. The five-month-old weighed less than nine pounds. Julia French fed the infant a potato-based vegan compound instead of formula.
On Wednesday Titusville Police received a tip about a severely malnourished baby from the Department of Children and Families. When police arrived at the home of Buskey and French, they say the baby looked extremely sick. Police described the baby with sunken eyes, loose skin on his extremities, and his ribs and other bones were showing.
Additionally, the baby was lethargic and was unable to maintain his blood sugar and temperature. The arrest affidavit stated the baby lacked muscle tone and could not move.
Doctors treating the child say he is extremely malnourished and dehydrated. The ER doctor told police the baby could suffer longterm heart complications from the malnourishment.
Medical records obtained by police indicated the baby was born in September. At the time of his birth, he weighed 7 pounds, nine ounces. When police found the baby, he weighed only eight pounds, eight ounces.
According to sources connected to the couple, Buskey and French are not married. However, French describes herself as Buskey’s concubine as a part of their religion, Nazarite Hebrew.
The arrest affidavit states a doctor saw the baby on November 1, 2018, for nutrition concerns. At that appointment, the doctor ordered the parents to feed the baby an organic formula. When the couple brought the infant back on February 5, 2019, the baby had lost a significant amount of body mass.
French admitted she stopped giving her son the formula. Instead, she spoon-fed him a potato-mash compound she found online.
Police Detective Lauren Watson of Titusville Police Department told WFTV,
“At one point, when the child was doing good and healthy and gaining weight, he was on an organic formula and they changed it on their own.”
“I’ve never seen a child to this level, this close to possible death.”
Shortly after finding the gravely ill child, police arrested both parents. Police charged the couple with felony child abuse causing great bodily harm. Authorities said they could face additional charges.While being booked on charges, Buskey questioned the accuracy of the medical records for his son. He appeared unable to believe his son only weighed eight pounds.
Currently, the infant is hospitalized and receiving treatment for his malnourishment. Police say he has gained a half pound after receiving IV fluids overnight.
Both parents had the financial means to provide formula and nutrition for their son. When police pressed them about why they stopped the formula, French and Buskey couldn’t answer.
Currently, Buskey is incarcerated at Brevard County Jail on a $75,000 bond. His next court appearance is March 7.
French remains held at Brevard County Jail. Her bond is $50,000.00. There are no details about her next court appearance.
As for their baby, he remains hospitalized. He will need on-going medical care to treat the starvation his parent inflicted on him.
After his release from the hospital, the baby will remain in state custody.
*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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