Another child dead from quackery

Naturopathy is quackery, and, like many forms of quackery, it kills. People who trust naturopaths to treat actual serious diseases instead of using real doctors and real medicine dramatically decrease their odds of surviving a serious illness. While competent adults have every right to make that choice, to use fake medicine instead of real medicine, as foolish a choice as that is, making that choice for a child, who is unable to choose for himself, is medical neglect and child abuse. Unfortunately, due to an all-too-prevalent attitude that views children as more or less the property of the parents, leading to far too much deference to parental “rights” when it comes to their choosing quackery for their children, it’s not at all uncommon for children to suffer the consequences of parents choosing naturopathy instead of medicine. I’ve written about such children victimized by quackery, be it naturopathy, faith healing, or other forms of quackery, far more times than I can remember. It’s depressing to contemplate.

As is this story that hit the news yesterday:

A southern Alberta couple accused of allowing their meningitis-infected toddler to die four years ago tried home remedies such as olive leaf extract and whey protein rather than take him to a doctor, a Lethbridge jury heard Monday.

David Stephan, 32, and his wife Collet Stephan, 35, have pleaded not guilty to failing to provide the necessaries of life for 19-month-old Ezekiel, who died in March 2012.

RCMP said at the time that the boy had been ill for a couple of weeks but his parents only called for an ambulance when he stopped breathing.

The Crown alleges the parents fed the boy supplements with an eye dropper, lay down with him and consulted a friend.

Then this happened:

After a nurse told Collet that Ezekiel’s symptoms suggested he had developed viral meningitis, the couple drove their son into Lethbridge to visit a naturopath, according to the Lethbridge Herald. At the time, Ezekiel had become so stiff that he was unable to sit in his car seat and had to lie on a mattress in the back of the family’s vehicle.

Collet told the RCMP that Ezekiel’s condition improved after he took a naturopathic remedy for meningitis, Global reported, but after he took a nap, he stopped breathing. Collet started CPR and David called 911.

In previous media interviews the family has denied that they handled Ezekiel’s illness inappropriately and said they were “blindsided” by the charges in 2013.

In another story:

Collet said she and David visited a naturopathic doctor in Lethbridge who gave them a treatment for viral meningitis, but never actually examined Ezekiel.

One wonders what “remedies” that this naturopath gave Ezekiel that would take care of viral meningitis. What herbs? What supplements? Was it homeopathy? After all, homeopathy is an integral part of naturopathy. It turns out that they fed Ezekiel water with maple syrup, juice with frozen berries and a mixture of apple cider vinegar, horse radish root, hot peppers, mashed onion, garlic and ginger root, and apparently they thought that this would do something. All I can think of is the sheer hubris, not to mention the malpractice of not even examining the child. After all, naturopaths keep saying that they want to be primary care providers, the equivalent of family practice physicians or pediatricians; yet here we have a naturopath who didn’t even do the most basic thing a physician should do when confronted with a sick patient, particularly if it’s a patient suspected of having something as serious as viral meningitis, which is to examine the patient. After all, it might be bacterial meningitis, which is even more serious.

Also, who knows who the naturopath was who treated the child? There are multiple naturopaths in Lethbridge, including at least Cindy Cervanka, Clayton J. Koganow, and Tracy Pike. Unfortunately, none of the news reports mentions who the naturopath was who treated Ezekiel. That’s unfortunate. Of course, perusing the websites I could find, they all appear equally quacky; so it doesn’t really matter.

It also turns out that the Stephans didn’t just consult quacks. They sold their own quackery:

The Stephans run a nutritional supplements company called Truehope Nutritional Support Inc. out of Raymond, Alta.

Health Canada launched an unsuccessful court case in 2004 to try to stop the distribution of the company’s supplement Empowerplus — a product the company claims can manage mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder — and also issued warnings about it.

In 2006, the company was found not guilty of distributing Empowerplus without a drug identification number.

Court also heard the Stephans tried treating Ezekiel with Empowerplus.

Curious and not having heard of Truehope, I wandered over to the Truehope website to see just what the Stephans have been selling. My, there are a lot of dubious claims on the website. For instance, the site claims to be able to treat ADD/ADHD, anxiety, autism, bipolar disorder, depression, fatigue, and stress. Of course, all supplement manufacturers claim to be able to treat fatigue and stress. They’re conditions sufficiently amorphous that it’s easy to claim to treat them. I also notice that Truehope appears to make claims primarily to treat psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders. Certainly, not even the company makes any claims for efficacy against infectious diseases, certainly not against something as severe as meningitis. To me, this makes the parents’ actions even more irresponsible, given that even they don’t claim that their supplements can do anything for what their child suffered from.

They do have a whole lot of nonsense on their site about the “nutrient theory of mental illness.” “Theory.” You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. Certainly, it doesn’t mean some half-assed idea that you pulled out of your nether regions based on cherry picked science. For example:

Numerous studies have been done on the relationship between single nutrients and mental health, but none have ever turned up a “miracle nutrient.” At Truehope Nutritional Support Ltd., we believe that a broad spectrum of deficiencies results in the symptoms of mood disorders, not a deficiency of one single nutrient. And since a deficiency in one nutrient has been shown to interfere with the absorption and/or metabolism of other nutrients, a chain reaction can result in multiple deficiencies. This is the foundation of the EMPowerplus Advanced™ formulation. It provides a broad spectrum, highly absorbable range of nutrients that are essential to brain function, and it delivers them in a balance that allows inter-dependent nutrients to work together.

Which all sounds impressive on the surface, but is a claim that’s very difficult to falsify—or to prove. In other words, it’s typical of the claims of herbalists, who like to make assertions about “synergy” between all the various natural products in ground up herbs without ever explaining how they actually demonstrated that “synergy.” Of course, they never actually do demonstrate it.

So what’s in these magic supplements? Shockingly little of interest, actually. If you look at the list of ingredients for EMEmpowerPlus Advanced, for example, contains nothing but a bunch of vitamins and minerals. It might as well be Flintstones vitamins! OK, not quite. It also contains choline bitartrate, DL-phenylalanine, citrus bioflavonoids, inositol, L-glutamine, L-methionine, grape seed extract, ginkgo biloba leaf, and other things.

So the trial continues and is expected to continue until March 24.

In the meantime, David and Collet Stephan are on Facebook indulging in self-pity and conspiracy mongering. They claim they’re being persecuted by a shadowy group:

This group is known to put on seminars that are sponsored by various pharmaceutical companies for the purpose of defaming and disparaging any treatments that are outside of allopathic medicine including chiropractic, naturopathic and homeopathic medicine. One of these seminars was solely dedicated to the defaming of my father’s company that is known as Truehope.


So the question is, will we ever be free? Free from the turmoil… free from the attacks… free from being plagued with anger and hatred. Yahshua (Jesus) once said “And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free”. Free from what one must ask? Free from the Romans or any other tyrannical government of that time or ours? Sure! But before that can take place, the people that are in bondage to these external forces must first be free from themselves. It is us as individuals that place ourselves in bondage. Why? Because we do not accept the truth and as such we are bound by our emotions, our anger, our hatred, our fears and we are no longer in control, but rather being controlled from within. We are subjected to internal slavery. It is because we do not live the truths that we are to Love unconditionally as we are loved and that we are to forgive others as we are forgiven. To show compassion, mercy, charity to others as we would hope for ourselves. We do not accept the truth that we are all Divine Sons and Daughters of a Divine Creator. This perspective alone should change our outlook toward others regardless of who they are or what they have done. Regardless of their ideologies and how destructive they may be. They are Divine Sons and Daughters just as you and I are, and as such, they are entitled to our unconditional Love and forgiveness just as much as any other Divine Creation.

A better question is whether you deserve to be free. After all, your negligence killed an innocent child.


  1. #1 Amethyst
    The Crystal Temple
    March 9, 2016

    “That’s unfortunate. Of course, perusing the websites I could find, they all appear equally quacky; so it doesn’t really matter.”

    I’ll have to disagree: if the parents gets jailtime for this (as they should), so should the naturoquack involved. Set a president for all naturoquacks in the state.

    So the identity is of utmost importance in this case, I’d say.

  2. #2 Dorit Reiss
    March 9, 2016

    At the least, it’s worth checking if there are disciplinary sanctions that can be used against the treating naturopath (and if there were family members willing to stand for Ezkiel, a tort suit would be appropriate).

    I’m troubled at how much their talk in commenting is about them and how little about the child whose trust they betrayed.

  3. #3 has
    March 9, 2016

    Utterly unrepentant liars and shills. +1 for a nice long stay in the big house with the rest of the child killers.

  4. #4 MI Dawn
    March 9, 2016

    That poor baby. I read this yesterday and couldn’t believe parents could ignore a child in pain like that.

  5. #5 Chris Hickie
    March 9, 2016

    I’ve seen articles online stating that cause of death was suspected to be bacterial meningitis, with the autopsy being complicated by the fact that this child had been sick for so long that isolating the pathogen was difficult. This child, was of course, unvaccinated.

    Funny how these two “parents” won’t cite Matthew 18:6 regarding children: “”If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

  6. #6 MikeMa
    March 9, 2016

    I also heard bacterial meningitis mentioned but the cause really doesn’t hold a candle to the parent’s hubris and ignorance. For my part i hope the turmoil, hate and disdain for them never ends.

  7. #7 Todd W.
    March 9, 2016

    What’s particularly telling, is that in that Facebook post, there is an awful lot of “give us money” and “we are so set upon”, but nary a word of the son they let die.

  8. #8 Ellie
    Still on the green side of the grass
    March 9, 2016

    I’ve been reading about these people, elsewhere and wondered if they’d also turn up here. Usually, I just want rabid anti-vaxxers to be stuck in an iron lung for 24 hours with a bad case of shingles. However, in this case,neither that nor prison would be enough. They should contract meningitis and be refused treatment until they are too stiff to sit in a car. Then, unlike them, I would allow the best medical treatment available and not force them to depend on maple syrup and naturopathy.

  9. #9 Eric Lund
    March 9, 2016

    I don’t know much about the relevant law in Canada generally or Alberta in particular. I know that in some respects Canadians are saner than Americans when it comes to health care, but that’s not true across the board (cf. the two First Nations girls Orac has written about). What I do know is that, at least in economic and political terms, Alberta is the Texas of Canada. The economy is largely based on oil and ranching, and the province is politically much more conservative than the national average (Stephen Harper’s riding is in Alberta). So while I’d like to see sanctions against the “attending” naturopath, I am not optimistic about that possibility.

  10. #10 Delphine
    March 9, 2016

    Here’s the point these vile clowns seem to be missing — if they’d taken Ezekiel to a physician, he would likely still be alive. But to them, it’s all about conspiracies and forced vaccines. They’ve martyred their son to the cause, all the while conveniently overlooking their own massive deficiencies.

    We don’t run to the doctor for everything, but we have a general rule in the house for our child. Anything that doesn’t clear up within a day or two gets a visit. These people have NO EXCUSE, it’s not like they would have had to pay out of pocket. Get sent home with “rest and fluids?” Fine by me, it’s just an hour or so out of our day.

    I’m haunted by the mental image of a 19 month old boy, too stiff to be buckled into his car seat. Not having the language to explain to his parents, the people who were supposed to protect and nurture him, to explain how tremendous his suffering would have been. AND STILL, they did NOTHING for this child.

    I feel tremendous sadness for anyone who loses a child. Nobody deserves that. These two, with their “me me me give us money persecution we did nothing wrong it was the flu it was this it wasn’t our fault Jesus loves you” are beyond the pale.

  11. #11 The Smith of Lie
    March 9, 2016

    Few sentences in I was thinking “oh, this is all going to be declared conspiracy by the alt crowd”. Lo and behold, the quote at the end about those poor child killers being beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men proved me right.

    I remember the outrage I felt few months ago when a naturoquack mother described how she “cured” her children pertussis. And somewho these assholes managed to be more callous then her…

  12. #12 Amethyst
    The Crystal Temple
    March 9, 2016

    @Delphine – The disgusting spin on the story as portrayed on that website is quite disgusting – but not as terrifying as the revelation (as per the family photos) these people have a lot more children…!

    Canada DOES have child protection services, right?

  13. #13 Delphine
    March 9, 2016

    At approximately 9:30pm we laid down the seats in the back of the SUV and loaded up both Ezekiel and his older brother Ezra and started down the road with Collet lying in the back with them. About 1 minute into our drive, Ezekiel stopped breathing again and CPR was administered by my Wife, while I phoned 911 and once again explained our rural location. An ambulance was dispatched from the nearest hospital in Cardston, about 30 minutes away to intercept us on the highway. We sped along down the gravel road, passing through the village of Glenwood about 3 minutes into the 911 call. Months later we were to discover that at this point, we were driving within a few hundred yards of a fully equipped ambulance with 2 local paramedics that were available for dispatch, but who had not received the call. About 15 minutes later and Ezekiel still not breathing, we met the ambulance that had been dispatched from Cardston only to later find out that Alberta Health Services had not fully equipped the ambulance with all the proper medical instruments, the intubation tube that was necessary for our son on that tragic night being one of them.

    Everybody’s fault but theirs. And they were utterly incensed that Child Protection Services got involved. These people are just completely out of touch with reality.

    There’s a photo of Ezekiel in the hospital. For anyone reading this and wanting to know what parental negligence can look like.

  14. #14 Amethyst
    The Crystal Temple
    March 9, 2016

    These people need their (for now, living) children taken from them and their snake oil buisness shut down, in addition to some time behind bars to think of what they’ve done.

    These aren’t poor, deluded parents who were taken in by some quack as I first thought – they’re actively peddling the very same kind of quackery that lead to the death of their child!

    … in the end, I guess you’ll have to give them credit for apparently truly, truuuuuuuuuuuly believing in their own quackery. So much so as to gamble, and lose, the life of a child. Not that it excuses what they have done, of course.

  15. #15 Delphine
    March 9, 2016

    Yes, Amethyst, they do.

    How many times in the go fund me narrative does David describe how tired, how sleep deprived, he and Collet were while at the hospital…as their child lay dying?

    1. My Wife and I attempted to go to sleep
    2. After a few failed hours of attempted sleep
    3. Being extremely sleep deprived, stressed and torn beyond belief
    4. We were now into day 3 and running on a few restless hours of sleep
    5. The next morning we woke up, still extremely sleep deprived

    When my baby sister was 4 years old, she acquired e.coli – HUS. She was in Toronto with my parents and treated at the Hospital For Sick Children. I can clearly recall those harrowing early days, I can still see my father’s grey face as he explained to me that while the surgeon was insisting on dialysis, the anesthesiologist was of the opinion that my sister could not withstand a general. I remember how depleted and anxious and scared my parents were, how we all were. And I don’t recall any of us complaining, then or since, about being tired.

  16. #16 Amethyst
    March 9, 2016

    Please tell me your sister got through it in the end..!

  17. #17 Delphine
    March 9, 2016

    Yes, she did. She survived the surgery for the dialysis, spent a few weeks in ICU and a total of almost two months at Sick Kids. She still has a fairly prominent scar on her lower belly and she’s still monitored every few years now. If/when she decides to have a baby, she will apparently be closely watched for pre-e.

  18. #18 Gray Squirrel
    March 9, 2016

    These two are classic examples of a belief system and personality type that should by now be familiar to us. I’ve also seen similar types in Northern California, from which I’ll make a few inferences.

    = Christian / New-Age syncretistic beliefs. For example “Yahshua” for “Jesus” is a pretty good clue to this.

    = Narcissistic personality. It’s all about them. Per Dorit @ 2, “I’m troubled at how much their talk in commenting is about them and how little about the child whose trust they betrayed.”

    = Dualistic (as in good/evil dualism) attitude about money: on one hand it’s evil, on the other hand, God or Whatever will make you prosperous if you believe / wish / “align yourself with Spirit” / whatever.

    = Magical thinking, as seen in language such as “manifest” (verb) whereby wishing makes it so. (I’ll try my hand at composing an example: “If you align yourself with Spirit, you will manifest wellness and prosperity.” Ouch, typing that was painful.)

    = They probably engage in rituals at home that combine elements of devotional worship and sex magic. They probably think of themselves in roles analogous to high priest and high priestess. Some of their rituals probably include drumming, others include worship at an altar where incense or herbs are burned.

    = They probably believe that their dead baby’s soul has been liberated into a glorious afterlife, which belief probably also eased their grief after the baby died. They may also believe that their baby has been communicating with them from the afterlife and bears them no ill-will for what “happened.”

    = They are probably not overt frauds, but earnest True Believers (so earnest that at times they shed tears for the emotional power of their beliefs), who really do believe their own horse-stuff, all the way, and would keep believing it on their own death beds.

    = One or both of them probably has post-secondary education, that somehow did not cure them of their nonsense, or of using excessive Capital Letters because what they write is really Important. (But they probably don’t use ALL CAPS or excessive Exclamation Points!!!! because those are for high-strung types, but these two are as mellow as pot plants basking in the mid-day sun.)

    And there are many, many more where these come from. Some day there’ll be a cure.

  19. #19 delta-orion
    March 9, 2016

    Wait, these are the Truehope people? I remember hearing one of them on the radio years ago (I think it was the Current on CBC but I could be mistaken) when they were engaged in a massive astroturfing campaign against an attempt to tighten up labelling regulation for supplements.

    These people were just awful then and clearly still are.

  20. #20 Jake
    March 9, 2016

    To provide some balance, the article should also include how many children have been killed by mainstream medicine this year. Over the counter and prescription medicine kills many, many times more than any form of quackery. Medicine saves lives, so the balance favours mainstream medicine when dealing with life-threatening conditions, but not when dealing with nuisances like colds and flus.

  21. #21 has
    March 9, 2016


    They’ve martyred their son to the cause, all the while conveniently overlooking their own massive deficiencies.

    Are you surprised? Full-blown narcissists are pathologically incapable of anything else, and this pair are an absolute peach. I like how prosecutors opened by saying that they “loved their son”; I do trust they will close by pointing out how they loved their own rotten selves infinitely more.

    I do also hope they spend years in prison and, most of all, I really hope the courts permanently place their surviving children with others actually capable of being responsible, loving, genuine parents, as those poor little sods deserve infinitely better than being left at the mercy of people who won’t hesitate to kill them for their own greater glory. Heck, when even an internet toilet like Reddit provides better support for such children, you know such an upbringing must be pretty goddamned dreadful. There are certain types of people in this world who just shouldn’t have children ever, and lots of them aren’t just the obvious sociopathic thieving crackhead trash type either, so I see no reason this pair should be viewed any differently just because they scrub up nice and their collars are white.

    As for your TMR link, there’s no way in hell I’m clicking on that as I don’t have nearly enough screens to put my fist through in response, but I’ve absolutely no douby that every last stinking one of them is wanking themselves utterly silly with delight over this. Dead and crippled babies are the glue that binds best, and striking down their children [with preventable curable lethal diseases] only makes them more powerful than ever before.

  22. #22 S. Williams
    March 9, 2016

    TrueHope?! F*ck! Those monsters sent my ex-wife down the path to naturopathic nonsense with promises of a cure (yes, CURE) for Bipolar Disorder. She now refuses conventional treatment for any issue, spends tons and tons of money on quackery, and hasn’t seen a conventional doctor or dentist (or vet) for years. It’s kinda scary, actually.

  23. #23 BBBlue
    March 9, 2016

    These Divine Sons and Daughters of a Divine Creator apparently believe in human sacrifice.

  24. #24 Todd W.
    March 9, 2016

    To provide some balance, the article should also include how many children have been killed by mainstream medicine this year.

    Why? You’re engaging in a false comparison. The problem in this case is not that the treatments that Ezekiel’s parents chose killed him. It’s that his parents essentially did nothing to treat his infection. They could have given him a topical acne cream and the problem would not change.

    Now, their belief in naturopathy certainly contributed to their allowing their son to die of a treatable illness. But the core problem is still that they let their son’s infection go untreated until it was too late.

  25. #25 Delphine
    March 9, 2016

    To provide some balance, the article should also include how many children have been killed by mainstream medicine this year. Over the counter and prescription medicine kills many, many times more than any form of quackery. Medicine saves lives, so the balance favours mainstream medicine when dealing with life-threatening conditions, but not when dealing with nuisances like colds and flus.

    I see you’re in Canada, Jake. Tell me, how many kids have died from OTC meds this year? What does Health Canada specifically state must be on the packaging of children’s cold and flu meds, with respect to age? Do you know why that is? Have a look here:

    Also, since it would appear that it was not a “nuisance” that killed Ezekiel, please provide a reference for the efficacy of naturopathy/garlic/maple syrup/eye of the newt for bacterial infections. Of any kind.

  26. #26 Cate K
    March 9, 2016

    It’s all very well asking for compassion, charity and mercy but I find it hard to forgive people who take no responsibility for their actions and blame every other agency for the death of their son. Just because you feel persecuted it doesn’t make you right.

    It’s hard for all of us to put up our hands and say that had we been less egotistical and accepted advice then the outcome of a situation would have been better but it’s essential to being fully functioning adult human beings.

  27. #27 Tim
    Columbia, SC
    March 9, 2016

    The #8 comment by Ellie is SPOT ON! Infect them with meningitis and let them progress to the point of paralysis. Then let them feel the relief of recovery through their use of modern medicine. Then, let them sit in prison for the rest of their lives and be a testament to those that sail under the similar flag of naturopathy.

  28. #28 JP
    March 9, 2016

    I am sickened and disgusted. I’ve been sharing this on Facebook, I only hope it can wake up some of my extremely quack-friendly friends back in Portland from the stupid trance they seem to be in.

    Or whatever it is that leads people to trust quacks like this.

    One thing about Michiganders, or at least the ones I know, they’re savvy enough not to fall for this kind of crap.

  29. #29 shay simmons
    March 9, 2016

    @Delphine — yes, and it’s TOTES the fault of the ambulance company for not having the right intubation. Isn’t it terrible how conventional medicine failed these people?

  30. #30 Jud
    March 9, 2016

    but not when dealing with nuisances like colds and flus

    Yeah, ’cause flu never killed a child. :eyeroll:

  31. #31 JGC
    March 9, 2016

    I’m willing to supply the millstone, Chris

  32. #32 Calli Arcale
    March 9, 2016

    I had meningitis when I was 4. It was a horrible experience. But I lived and have had no long-term issues as a result of it. The big difference is that when my fever spiked to over 104 in a matter of hours, my parents whisked me straight to the ER. I didn’t leave the hospital for two weeks.

    We’ll probably never know if this kid had a vaccine-preventable form of meningitis, since there are so many pathogens that can cause it. But damn, most bacterial meningitis can be treated with prompt antibiotics and good supportive care, as long as you get the patient to the hospital pronto. And the symptoms aren’t trivial. Stiff neck, severe headache, extreme nausea, hallucinations, scary high fever, lethargy, sudden onset. It’s not something you’re likely to mistake for a cold.

  33. #33 Chris Hickie
    March 9, 2016

    Medicine saves lives, so the balance favours mainstream medicine when dealing with life-threatening conditions, but not when dealing with nuisances like colds and flus.

    To the poster of the above nonsense, what part of “Ezekiel had become so stiff that he was unable to sit in his car seat and had to lie on a mattress in the back of the family’s vehicle.” do you not get? WTF kind of stupid **sed “parent” doesn’t see that as time to call 911 time?

    A: Worthless, selfish, people like the so-called “parents” now standing trial. I hope those two rot in jail for a long while.

  34. #34 Takiar
    Sherbrooke, Canada
    March 9, 2016

    @ Jake #20

    No, it’s not about balance. This article mentions nothing about global data. Moreover, you mention that mainstream medicine kills, that it saves lives, then you ask how many kids have died from OTC drugs for a cold? That’s a false comparison, and it’s quite an understatement…

  35. #35 Takiar
    Sherbrooke, Canada
    March 9, 2016

    @ Eric Lund #9

    It’s complicated. Criminal law is Federal jurisdiction: provinces have no say on that (they do manage prisons for sentences of less than 24 months, longer sentences mean prisoners go to federal prisons). Si if they go to jail, you need to look at the federal criminal law. So is drug regulation by Health Canada’s Therapeutic Product Directorate (our Drug part form USA’s FDA). Branding their EMPower as treating illnesses, it’s Health Canada that may pursue them for false representations and unapproved pharmaceuticals (they also give natural products number, but those are easy to get, you only need to prove they are not dangerous).

    Health, and public safety (not security) are provincial jurisdictions however. For managing medical permits, that’s the province’s College of Physician/Medical Board. Child protection services are also provincial.

    Had never heard of Truehope though (I’m not in that part of Canada). They deserve to be jailed for child abuse (and place that other child in protection care, poor little fellow).

  36. #36 carrie
    March 9, 2016


  37. #38 TroubleMaker
    March 9, 2016

    No, they weren’t just content to neglect the poor child, they gave their 19-month-old horseradish and hot peppers. That must have gone down well. A little torture on top of the neglect.

    That gofundme page is sickening. I do like the comment from April Battle though– “I will continue to prey for your family!” A freudian slip if I’ve ever seen one.

  38. #39 Sally Rubis
    March 9, 2016

    What does the color blue have to do with anything? I just don’t get it…

  39. #40 Todd W.
    March 9, 2016

    And here’s their latest “stop being mean to us” post. Still no acknowledgment of wrongdoing, just claims that articles have been incorrect. No statement about the “actual” facts, just “they’re wrong and you’re all being mean”.

  40. #41 herr doktor bimler
    March 9, 2016

    1. My Wife and I attempted to go to sleep
    2. After a few failed hours of attempted sleep

    “The worst part of letting our child die was that we couldn’t get a decent sleep in the process.”

  41. #42 Militant Agnostic
    200 km from the Morridor
    March 9, 2016

    Gray Squirrel

    Christian / New-Age syncretistic beliefs. For example “Yahshua” for “Jesus” is a pretty good clue to this.

    Nope – according to Raw Story they are Mormons which fits with the location. Lethbridge is the north end of the morridor. Cardston, the small town the ambulance came from had a Mormon temple decades before they built one in Calgary. The large family and callous reaction to the death of one of their many children are characteristic of Mormons.

  42. #43 Militant Agnostic
    March 9, 2016

    Long before the child stopped breathing they could have taken him the nearest hospital in Cardston – 60 km (40 minutes away).

    True Hope was developed by a feed salesman who “observed” that adding vitamins and minerals supposedly reduced tail biting (and therefore fighting) in pigs. From this he extrapolated that it could cure mental illness. Unfortunately Health Canada ran up against a stupid scientifically illiterate judge when they took True Hope to court.

  43. #44 herr doktor bimler
    March 9, 2016

    Health Canada won in court against Truehope in 2010:

    according to Raw Story they are Mormons which fits with the location.

    Ah, that also fits with the MLM aspect of the scam.

  44. #45 Mrs Grimble
    Deep in the forest
    March 9, 2016

    Todd W @7: Yes, I noticed as well – the only mention of their dead child is in the name of the page! Every single post there just boils down to “Poor us! We’re being persecuted! Give us money!” The narcissism of this pair is sickening.

  45. #46 Agrippina
    March 9, 2016

    Truehope has a long history, largely with Health Canada regarding research regulations and sales, and even had a brush with the US Office for Human Research Protections.

    August 2002 determination letter w/ findings of non-compliance, specifically conducting research rejected by IRB:

    Index of related documents:

  46. #47 Old Rockin' Dave
    On the high side of low...
    March 9, 2016

    It’s a maxim of mine that “If you can look on at the suffering of anyone else’s child, then you don’t really love your own children.” These are people for whom their children are possessions more than they are people, maybe more like a special kind of livestock.
    I support neither death nor imprisonment for them. Given my choice, I’d have them each shackled to a post and me given a tire iron and 30 uninterrupted minutes with each one. We would find out just how much damage the human body can inflict on a tire iron and they would never walk, sit, stand, hold a cup, or do anything else the same way again.
    Oh, and he would never father any children again.

  47. #48 mho
    March 9, 2016

    #19, #22. #35
    You might be interested in the book Dr. Polovoy and two others wrote 13 years ago about Truehope and EMpower: “Pig Pills Inc The Anatomy of an Academic and Alernative Health Fraud.”
    I haven’t read it–I just know of it. Its on Amazon.
    Health Canada lost their case, so I hope that doesn’t make them too nervous to aggressively pursue this one.

  48. #49 mho
    March 9, 2016

    edit Alternative, not alernative

  49. #50 Britt Marie Hermes
    March 9, 2016

    This story is so sad. It is yet another example of why naturopaths should not have the endorsement by way of licensing, even though the parents are to blame. The nurse knew the warning signs and what to do. The parents did not act. Their child was so stiff he could not sit in the car on the way to the ND, he needed to lie on a mattress in the back of the car. Of course, the naturopath missed the deadly disease, even given its advanced stage. NDs are not doctors. They should never be allowed to see children, let alone be recognized by the state.

  50. #51 Andy
    United States
    March 9, 2016

    Also from their Facebook posting. They are seriously delusional…

    We have found there actual names on Health Canada documents that showed that they were greatly responsible for initiating the seizure of our mental health supplements at the border back in 2003, that ultimately resulted in numerous suicides as over 3000 Canadians were relying on our products in favour of pharmaceutical medications and were now put into a place of hardship.

  51. #52 Dangerous Bacon
    March 9, 2016

    “To provide some balance, the article should also include how many children have been killed by mainstream medicine this year.”

    Yeah! And we need to add that balance to articles about kids poisoned by household chemicals, killed by physical abuse, sexually assaulted etc.

    Remind everyone of the evils of mainstream medicine, and let no one cast the first stone!

  52. #53 Denice Walter
    March 9, 2016

    @ Old Rockin’ Dave:

    ” a special kind of livestock”
    Yes! Well said, Mr!

  53. #54 Denice Walter
    March 9, 2016

    re Dr Polovoy

    Terry Polovoy is ALMOST ( but not quite) as hated as Steven Barrett ( see Tim Bolen and his MILLIONS of health freedom fighters)

    Actually, amongst those I survey, I hear about both ‘quackbusters’ ( sic)- nym courtesy of Bolen- AND ‘science-based sceptics’/ ‘sceptic doctors’ as being the enemies of freedom –
    the second grouping probably refers to our most gracious and esteemed host and his cohorts at SBM

  54. #55 herr doktor bimler
    March 9, 2016

    Empowerplus, which is basically a mixture of vitamins and minerals, was developed by Truehope, a company founded by David Stephan’s property manager father, Anthony Stephan, and a salesman friend, David Hardy.

    Sounds like Stephan pere was dosing his children with the pig tranquilisers from an early age, for fear of them succumbing to a familial tendency to bipolar disorder. So in young David’s defense, he suffers from effectively untreated manic-depression.

    I’ve been trying to make sense of the lawsuits and countersuits from when Hardy went into business for himself with a competing formulation of pig calmative:

    Anthony Stephan does not seem to like competition. Or paying licensing fees.

  55. #56 Sara
    March 9, 2016

    Testimony from today confirmed the naturopath was Tracey Pike (Tannis). She recommended tincture of echinacea. Details here:

  56. #57 Sara
    March 9, 2016

    Add another footnote to this crazy story – this man murdered his father, and almost his mother after stopping his psych meds to go on the Stephan family’s Truehope’s vitamins:

  57. #58 Chris Hickie
    March 9, 2016

    Look at this crap on their gofundme page (

    ….Having been assured that there was going to be no improvement via conventional means, I met with the attending doctor and received approval to use alternative treatments in an attempt to promote healing and stimulate brain activity. We were given less than 3 days to put it to the test.

    We received a lot of support from friends in the natural health industry and were able to employ quite a few natural alternatives both intravenously and orally and we saw improvements. The medications were beginning to be reduced and the medication that was required to keep his heart beating was substantially reduced to about 10% of what was previously required to keep it going. The doctors were no longer telling us that he may not make it through the day or the night. All tests showed that his heart and other organs were healthy… not normal for a heart that had stopped for 45 minutes and organs that had all been severely oxygen deprived…

    I am hoping this is pure BS from these lying SoS parents, because if not, then some ICU attending (who should lose his/her license if so) let them do in the ICU the same garbage that contributed to his neglect in the first place. I shudder to think what these stupid, idiotic, imbecilic naturopaths think are “intravenous alternatives”.

  58. #59 capnkrunch
    March 9, 2016

    So sad. I have seen many kids with meningitis and I can picture this clearly. The image of Ezekiel too stiff to sit in a car seat is heart wrenching.

    On the other hand, I do not like some of the rhetoric here. I understand that the death of a child gets people worked up but you guys are starting to sound like the AVers with their violence inciting rhetoric. There should be consequences but I dislike the idea of wishing suffering on another person.

  59. #60 Delphine
    March 9, 2016

    I don’t wish suffering on them, capnkrunch. I wish, in this order — that their surviving children go to a good home with people who love and shield and honour them – that the parents don’t have more children – that they are punished to the full extent of the law and serve their full sentences.

    Harnessing my little girl into her own seat this afternoon, it was all I could think about.

    One more thing that I wish. I know there are many non-believers here, but I do hope that God shows them mercy. I have a feeling they’re going to need it.

  60. #61 RTMan
    March 9, 2016

    According to this article:

    the naturopath who saw the mother is this person:

    Apparently, the naturopath gave out echinacea for a suspected case of viral meningitis…

    When this incident happened Nauropathic “doctors” weren’t regulated in Alberta. They have since become self-regulated professionals.

  61. #62 Delphine
    March 9, 2016

    Yes. Dr. Tracey Tannis, naturopath, prescribed a tincture of echinacea to a toddler who was driven to his appointment with her lying on a mattress, because he was too stiff to sit in his car seat.

    World, shut your mouth.

  62. #63 Old Rockin' Dave
    March 10, 2016

    Capnkrunch, there is less wrong with wishing, or even inflicting, some measure of suffering on those who have inflicted suffering on innocent others. While prison is the punishment of societal choice in much of the world rather than physical torture, etc., the point of imprisonment is suffering the loss of nearly all freedoms. They let their child suffer horribly. Let them now suffer horribly.

  63. #64 capnkrunch
    March 10, 2016

    Delphine, you have been measured in your comments. What I take issue with is the comments hinting or outright saying that they deserve to get meningitis or even die or be killed themselves. It’s the same rhetoric used by AVers against Paul Offit for example and we really should be better than that.

    I get it, probably better than most. I’ve had abusive parents lie to my face about their kid’s scars and injuries. I’ve responded to babies who were killed by abusive head trauma (only once fortunately). It’s hard to stay composed and easy to wish awful things on people who would hurt kids. But I think we need to be bigger than they are.

  64. #65 Old Rockin' Dave
    March 10, 2016

    45 minutes of asystole!? It kind of slipped my notice before. Even if there was a crew capable of maintaining 45 minutes of more or less unbroken correctly performed infant CPR, there was virtually no chance of recovery with very much brain function. This poor little mite was essentially doomed long before reaching the hospital.The doctor who let them try additional Paleolithic witch doctoring probably chose to let them go ahead with their useless and pointless nonsense rather then having them make a fuss – a placebo for the parents, in effect.

  65. #66 capnkrunch
    March 10, 2016

    Old Rockin’ Dave@63

    I can totally relate to wanting to beat someone to death with a tire iron but I like to think that we are more civilized than that so those thoughts stay between me, my therapist and sometimes my coworkers.

  66. #67 mho
    March 10, 2016

    I think “hated by Bolen” translates to “great credentials”

  67. #68 Amethyst
    The Crystal Temple
    March 10, 2016

    I’m with old Capn’ Krunch on this one. What was that saying again… “an eye for and eye will make the whole world blind”..?

  68. #69 has
    March 10, 2016

    +1 what krunch says. I understand the wishing-for-violence rhetoric but it really doesn’t reflect well on folks here. Leave the masturbatory revenge fantasies to the true dicks.

    These criminals need to be locked up for a good long spell and their names permanently and publicly disgraced as the child-killing scum they are. The surviving children also deserved to be placed into good families who will love, protect, and raise them like their own; not to punish the parents further, but because they are a clear and immediate – not to mention recidivist – danger to anyone under their care. And, ideally, the state will take another good hard look at their their vile, murderous scam of a business (thanks, sara@57) and put out of existence for good.

    Let civilized society do that, and it will have put right as best it can.

  69. #70 GG
    March 10, 2016

    This is a very sad occurrence complicated by many factors. Unfortunately it is not clear why the boy died.
    However, I personally know naturopathy is not quackery.
    I had one serious health problem last year and my mainstream medicine physician did not solve it. I didn’t know anything about naturopathy then. I educated myself on my problem and on all available evidence based treatments. This introduced me to naturopathy, and I then consulted one specializing in what I needed and followed her protocols to the best of my ability because I was scared. After 3 months I was free of my problem (as she said I would be) and continue so for 2 years. My mainstream medicine physician is puzzled.

  70. #71 GG
    March 10, 2016

    I meant to say “I had one serious health problem 2 years ago”. Not “last year” as I still forget it’s 2016 now, and this all occurred early in 2014.

  71. #72 harriet huestis
    March 10, 2016

    March 13 she calls the naturopath asking for meningitis remedies. That was two days before the child stopped breathing and they finally sought medical care. Two days!

    I have come to the conclusion that despite knowing their child was critically ill they were so invested in their beliefs about natural products that to take the baby to get real medical care would be to admit defeat. They had to continue to wait it out to give time for the natural remedies to work because they have to work. Even in defeat with the death of the toddler they cannot admit it and continue to blame everyone but themselves and their worthless natural remedies.

  72. #73 RJM
    March 10, 2016

    Long time lurker, first time poster.

    I’ve been drawn out of the shadows by this truly awful story.

    I’m an Infectious Disease Physician and Clinical Microbiologist. I deal with severe sepsis and meningitis (viral, bacterial, fungal, other) on a daily basis.

    One thing I’ve learned through bitter experience is that you cannot rule meningitis in or out over the phone. You also cannot differentiate “benign” viral meningitis from that which needs urgent directed therapy on clinical grounds alone. Once you’ve raised the question, there is only one way to answer it: CSF examination.

    The website of the naturopathic “physician” who gave over the phone advice to this poor kid’s parents seems to have gone offline. I wonder why.

    Has anyone else noticed that in this case and others like it, the wingnut parents almost always reach out for “allopathic” assistance when the kid is terminally ill?

    Breathtaking hypocrisy.

  73. #74 MikeMa
    March 10, 2016

    GG @70,
    Anecdotes are not data. Your personal experience does NOT vindicate mountains of evidence against naturopathy.

  74. #75 Amethyst
    The Crystal Temple
    March 10, 2016

    “This is a very sad occurrence complicated by many factors. Unfortunately it is not clear why the boy died.”

    What part of “untreated viral meningitis” don’t you understand?

  75. #76 Gray Squirrel
    March 10, 2016

    Militant Agnostic @ 42

    Interesting. I have heard various New Agey types use a couple of other names for Jesus, that sound like oldschool-language names, and my memory for names is famously crappy, so there we go. However that’s not an excuse for my failure to copy & paste “Yahshua” into an Ixquick search (though, having pulled an allnighter is a viable excuse, though I’ve just done likewise and still had time to search it out this time; go figure;-).

    Having just done so, I get a Wikipedia article by that name, which in turn refers to the _Sacred Name Movement_, which itself is also the title of a Wikipedia article (yah I know one shouldn’t even cite Wikipedia in undergrad papers but I have no reason to doubt these articles).

    The Sacred Name Movement in turn is connected to the “Church of God (Seventh Day)” which has its own article and is neither LDS nor Seventh Day Adventist.

    The bottom of the page lists “Latter Day Saints (Strangite)” as “non-Adventist”, and refers to yet another article, about their founder, named James Strang.

    So at this point I’m in the proverbial cloud of unknowing about this aspect of the case. If you have any links re. “Yahshua” in LDS usage, I’d be interested to know.

    And I’d also be interested to know if these two will be allowed to practice their religion in prison (minus the child sacrifice part). Probably Yes because Canada is a sane & civilized country that isn’t noted as a human rights violator.

    (BTW, I think you & I know each other from another forum that shall remain nameless;-)

    Re. whoever said “lots and lots of children,” how many did this couple produce? See also “r/K selection theory,” also easily found at Wikipedia. In brief, two major reproductive strategies: r = have a large litter and don’t put much effort into raising each one, and K = have a small quantity of offspring and put lots of effort into raising each one.

    If they had “lots of kids,” they were classic r-selectors. And that is also really miserable to contemplate.

  76. #77 Amethyst
    The Crystal Temple
    March 10, 2016

    @Squirrel – According to the family photos on the Thinkingmoms’s article they had three sons (or more, as some could be absent in the photos).

  77. #78 Ellie
    March 10, 2016


    You know, I’m not actively seeking to infect these people with meningitis, nor do I think they should be officially punished with the same. But they don’t deserve to know what their baby was suffering?

    In 1972, I was hospitalized with something. It was at first thought to be meningitis, because I had most of the symptoms, but that was ruled out only after a spinal tap. I know what I went through with “must have been some kind of virus,” and I was in my mid 20s, not a baby who could not articulate what was wrong or ask for help. So, I personally don’t take back what I said. Not at all. Fortunately for all humankind, we rarely get the bad stuff we deserve.

  78. #79 Gray Squirrel
    March 10, 2016

    Follow-up re. Militant Agnostic @ 42:

    D’oh!, I forgot to mention, if you have a link to the Raw Story article I’d be interested.

    Re. all the talk of torturing these two: those who talk that way have no basis to object to “torture as policy” or to those who promote or engage in torturing terrorists. Torture is evil, period, there is no debating this.

    The appropriate punishment for these two is life in prison without parole, shutdown of their business, and then for the world to forget they even exist. And of course the rest of their kids should be placed with loving families who will treat them well.

  79. #80 harriet huestis
    March 10, 2016

    This is a good explanation of the relevant Canadian law they are charged under. The minimum sentence is 18 months and the maximum is 5 years.
    This is an offence that contains a “reverse onus.” The presumption is that you have committed the offence of failure to provide necessaries when the person to whom you owe the duty is found to be in the above circumstances. The burden of establishing a lawful excuse is upon the accused. 

    It is also important to note that you don’t have a lawful excuse to not provide for your spouse or child just because someone else is doing
    Case law says the crown must establish a “marked departure from the conduct of a reasonably prudent person” in circumstances where it was objectively foreseeable that the failure to provide the necessaries of life would lead to a risk to life or the possibility of permanent endangerment to health.

    Since the child died the first condition is well established. The second condition that there actions are a “marked departure” from a reasonably prudent person is multiply satisfied. While many people Google symptoms and use natural “remedies” in the early days of a seemingly mild illness in themselves or their children most would have sought medical care for a toddler after the child didn’t recover after a few days perhaps as long as a week. While you might let a teen or adult fight it out for weeks, most people will seek treatment earlier for infants and toddlers because of their vulnerability. Almost no one would not rush to emergency upon suspecting meningitis but these parents waited days. Then the drive into Lethbridge with the toddler too stiff further satisfied the second condition. The third condition that it was objectively foreseeable that it could lead to harm or loss of life is satisfied because the parents suspected meningitis.

    If the jury follows the law the parents will be convicted as all conditions were satisfied. However sympathy for the otherwise loving parents could sway some.

  80. #81 harriet huestis
    March 10, 2016

    The more I learn the more surprised I am that the parents were not charged with criminal negligence given the description of the Lethbridge trip. I can only think it might be that juries would be unlikely to convict for a harsher sentence over sympathy for the loss of a child.

  81. #82 RTMan
    March 10, 2016

    @RJM #73

    The naturopath’s web site was up yesterday. It is interesting that it has since gone down.

    In any case, if you are interested, it has been archived at:–Tracey-Tannis.html

  82. #83 Richard Smith
    March 10, 2016

    @harriet huestis (#81):

    it might be that juries would be unlikely to convict for a harsher sentence over sympathy for the loss of a child.

    Sounds awfully similar to asking for leniency in the sentencing of the Menendez brothers because they were so recently orphaned…

  83. #84 Delphine
    eggs and solidiers
    March 10, 2016

    Has anyone else noticed that in this case and others like it, the wingnut parents almost always reach out for “allopathic” assistance when the kid is terminally ill?

    Yes. Wait until the child is nearly dead before doing your BASIC DUTY as a parent, then blame the system for not killing/not saving him/her.

  84. #85 Delphine
    March 10, 2016

    However sympathy for the otherwise loving parents could sway some.

    Yes, and IANAL, but I think the Crown was wise to open with “they loved their son.” Get it out there, acknowledge what’s ahead. The Stephans are white, likely reasonably educated, apparently middle class, attractive, on goes the list.

    And they probably did love Ezekiel. Just not as much as they loved their ideology.

  85. #86 RTMan
    March 10, 2016

    @harriet huestis

    It is interesting that the burden of proof is with the defendant. I thought that it would be up to the crown to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the child died from meningitis and that he could have been saved if the parents had brought him in earlier. From what I have read, I understand that the coroner suspected that the child died of bacterial meningitis caused by Hib, but that there was some question as to whether or not that was the case. If the burden of proof was with the crown, I would think that questioning the validity of the coroner’s report might have been enough to put doubt in the mind of a jury. The defence could argue that occasionally infants suddenly die (say of SIDS or something) and that this could have happened in this case, and that the other symptoms were potentially just a coincidence and would have cleared up on their own.

    In any case, if it is up to the parents to show that they acted as any reasonable parent would act with a sick child, then I think it is going to be a tough battle for the defence. If there is a conviction, I really think this would sway a lot of fence sitters over to getting their child vaccinated. The hard core anti-vaxers will just retrench in their conspiracy theories, but I would think that a crunchy mommy who just had her first child would think twice about not vaccinating when it could end up in jail time.

  86. #87 Delphine
    March 10, 2016

    have a large litter and don’t put much effort into raising each one

    The thing is, I’m willing to wager that their parenting style is quite labour intensive. Lots of effort that would have been much better invested elsewhere.

  87. #88 madder
    United States
    March 10, 2016

    Any time I hear a positive anecdote about naturopathetic “treatment,” I’m put in mind of the person close to me who has been taken in by one of these quacks. This person gets the perfectly ordinary nasal-allergy sniffles. After performing an unspecified blood test, the quack declared these to be food allergies. All of the alleged allergens were meat/dairy items, which is of course entirely an innocent coincidence with Benedict Lust’s own vegetarianism. The treatment is homeopathy. The patient insists that it works wonders, but any observer might wonder at the wastebaskets full of used tissues.

    So this particular patient’s anecdote about the success of naturoquacky is entirely a product of confirmation bias. What the patient has gained, though, is the unrelenting belief that xe is completely at fault for any symptoms. That’s what naturoquacky does to people. They take the patient’s money and convince them that it’s their own fault that the bogus “treatment” doesn’t work. It’s vile, and it’s cruel, and this kind of fraud should be illegal.

  88. #89 SwissCheese
    Big Pharmaland
    March 10, 2016

    This is distressing. I don’t buy this “loving parents” story. Loving parents do not sacrifice their children to their beliefs. These people do not deserve any sympathy or leniency, they are the reason the little boy is dead, they killed him and now pretend it’s them who are victims in the situation. I would hope their remaining children are taken away from them, because it’s not safe for any child to have parents like that, but these loons will make a new one to practice their woo.

  89. #90 Rich Bly
    Ocean Shores
    March 10, 2016

    This isn’t possible but when these Dumb Shits are convicted (it should be for murder) they should be spare parted and used to give life to others.

    Also, the term ND should be changed to WD: Witch Doctor.

  90. #91 Delphine
    March 10, 2016

    They’re active on their FB page again, posting about how this is “the most accurate story found to date” on what happened to Ezekiel.

    The family considered going in to the hospital. However, Canada has a socialized medical system (sic) The experience of many people has been that they have been turned away by hospitals when the symptoms are mild. The decision was made, instead, to keep watching Ezekiel and take him to the nearest hospital if his symptoms got worse. It seemed a prudent approach, the same decision that countless other parents in similar situations have made.

    This is their defense? They didn’t take him to a hospital because they might have been sent home? Exactly which hospital in Canada has ever sent home a toddler presenting to the ER without first examining him?

    And why couldn’t they have taken him to an ACTUAL GP, OF WHICH THERE ARE MANY, if taking him to a hospital was such an imagined waste of time? Walk-in clinic, family practice, nurse practitioner, did they do any of that?? What’s their excuse for that?? And does not taking him to an actual hospital justify the alternative BS treatment they gave him? Clearly he was sick enough to warrant “treatment”, right? But not sick enough for “real treatment” ?

    It would have cost them NOTHING but their time. Instead their appalling behaviour cost Ezekiel his life.

  91. #92 Delphine
    March 10, 2016

    My experience of taking a sick toddler to the ER in Canada (and the US for that matter) is that everyone pays the f*ck attention and pronto, but apparently, they live in some sort of alternate Canadian universe I’ve yet to experience.

    God, they are loathsome.

  92. #93 Todd W.
    March 10, 2016

    On a related note, the crack investigative folks of the Vaccine Resistance Movement cry conspiracy, with one commenter declaring that Ezekiel Stephan was clearly vaccinated because he has strabismus (at least, she thinks she sees it in the accompanying photo).

  93. #94 Politicalguineapig
    March 10, 2016

    Jake, go crawl back in your hole. First of all, like everyone else said, these parents essentially allowed their child to die. I sincerely hope they will not be raising any child ever again; that they lose custody of the living children and that they have their tubes tied with not even an ice pack.

    Secondly, while colds are nuisances, there are people who need to work or would like to have the kids sleep through the night. Over the counter cold medicines ain’t the devil. You can keep your echinecea.

  94. #95 Calli Arcale
    March 10, 2016

    “The experience of many people has been that they have been turned away by hospitals when the symptoms are mild.”

    Oh for goodness sakes. In addition to what Delphine already said, the symptoms of meningitis are hardly mild. When my parents brought me to the ER in 1980, they took me in right away — angering a family who was waiting for their son to have his broken arm addressed, but the thing is that broken arms don’t generally get worse over the course of an hour, while that hour can make a big difference with meningitis (which of course can also be contagious, so there’s the worry that one untreated case can quickly become half a dozen).

    Even more telling to me, though, is that apparently the quack that they *did* take him to quite obviously treated him in exactly the way they presume the ER would’ve treated him. Why are they apparently fine with a quack failing to examine their child and sending them home, when even the *presumption* that an ER might do this is unconscionable?

  95. #96 Sara
    March 10, 2016

    If you haven’t had a chance to look at the family story behind the dawn of “Truehope”, it would likely answer several questions about why the Stephan family behaved the way they did. The whole thing was founded after the mother (of 10 children, (David being one of them) committed suicide. Several of the children were already exhibiting signs of bipolar so Dad invented a supplement based on observing the behavior of pigs. They have been given this supplement – presumably in lieu of actual treatment their whole lives. The company existed at the dawn of the internet so gained a huge following all over North America before they ran into trouble. The family has grown up believing the government was conspiring to bring them down. I’m not sure how educated they are … they seem an awful lot like the Duggars.

  96. #97 herr doktor bimler
    March 10, 2016

    The family considered going in to the hospital. However, Canada has a socialized medical system (sic)

    “We couldn’t take our dying child to hospital because it doesn’t charge enough.”

  97. #98 Delphine
    March 10, 2016

    Oh come now, herr doktor. Who among us has not made the same choice? “Countless other parents”, etc. etc. Let he who has failed to neglect a sick child cast the first stone.

    Sara, I’m sick in bed and I’m going down that rabbit hole a bit later.

  98. #99 herr doktor bimler
    March 10, 2016

    Fortunately funeral services are purely profit-driven and can therefore be used without qualms.

  99. #100 Narad
    March 10, 2016

    On a related note, the crack investigative folks of the Vaccine Resistance Movement cry conspiracy

    I hope someone saved a copy before it went bye-bye.

  100. #101 Old Rockin' Dave
    March 10, 2016

    capnkrunch, first, I don’t want to beat them to death, just systematically cripple them, after which they would be free to go.
    Second, I posted that here because here seems to be a good place to vent. In virtuous reality I don’t support or advocate torture or similar mayhem for interrogation or punishment. I also believe that people are supposed to be sent to prison as punishment, not for punishment.
    But yes, I do believe that if there is no suffering, no hardship, in imprisonment, then there is no point to it. I am far from an L&O right-wingnut, but I’m appalled by the soft treatment that Anders Breivik is receiving. There is nothing wrong with holding people in spartan conditions, as long as they have the necessities of life and are free from abuse.

  101. #102 Militant Agnostic
    March 10, 2016

    @Gray Squirell

  102. #103 Politicalguineapig
    March 10, 2016

    hdb: Seriously? Idiots don’t know how good they’ve got it. Heck, I squirmed out of an ER visit after I got hit by a car because I was scared of the bill. (That and I wasn’t ALL that hurt.)

    But, you know, if I was put in charge of a toddler, even if the kid wasn’t mine and they were as sick as poor little Ezekiel, I’d say hang the cost. I wouldn’t even let a cat or a dog in my care get that sick.

  103. #104 Militant Agnostic
    March 11, 2016

    @Gray Squirrel

    Here is the link to the Raw Story article, however you have already dug up far more than is contained in this article.

    The bottom of the page lists “Latter Day Saints (Strangite)” as “non-Adventist”, and refers to yet another article, about their founder, named James Strang.

    On the latest Naked Mormonism Podcast Bryce Blankenagel mentioned the Strangites in passing as one of the many splinter sects that popped up after the death of Joseph Smith. These sects usually only adopted only a portion of the original Mormon doctrine. Since the Mormons are generally not big on woo other than supplements, I think you are on the right track with them being a splinter sect. The guy’s hair is also very un-Mormon. If they don’t practice polygamy (and rejecting polygamy was often a reason for splitting off in the first place), these sects fly under the radar. Probably the best source for information is CBC Calgary, however they are going to soft pedal the religious aspect.

  104. #105 Amethyst
    The Crystal Temple
    March 11, 2016


    Not to mention they had, as we all know by now, had the diagnosis of meningitis suggested to them by the nurse friend. Would the hopsital have turned them away if they had mentioned that, in addition to the poor boy actually exhibiting signs of menignitis?

    The nurse knew what it was. The parents knew what it was. The naturoquack knew what it was (as she “prescribed” snakeoil for meningitis). Of course the hopsital staff would’ve known as well had they brought him in at that time!

  105. #106 Murmur
    March 11, 2016

    Delphine #91

    Second thing my parents did on retiring was one of those long railway journeys across Canada (first was to go to New Zealand). During the course of this my mum picked up a mild chest infection, but still bad enough to require treatment, so she rocked up to the local ER. She was seen promptly, prescribed anti-biotics and offered a follow up appointment…

    And speaking as a UK-ian with a fully “socialised” medical system, any bairn showing up at A&E with symptoms remotely resembling meningitis WILL be seen rapidly (I spent a lot of time in A&E departments in one of my jobs).

    Their story is purest manure of the bovine. Indeed, an uncharitable person might even think it was a total fabrication, designed to cover their nether regions. But we are all charitable folk here, aren’t we?

  106. #107 Murmur
    March 11, 2016

    Good Herr Doktor #97 and 99

    Please send me a new laptop as I appear to have spat coffee all over this one…

  107. […] can treat, meningitis. Unfortunately, his parents didn’t take him to a real doctor. They took him to a naturopath, who recommended maple syrup, juice with frozen berries and a mixture of apple cider vinegar, horse […]

  108. #109 Todd W.
    March 11, 2016


    I hope someone saved a copy before it went bye-bye.

    Damn. I really should get into the habit of just grabbing a screenshot of AV stuff I come across, because they do have this annoying tendency of memory-holing things.

  109. #110 Gray Squirrel
    March 11, 2016

    Militant Agnostic @ 104:

    I don’t see your link there, but not to worry.

    Yeah, the guy’s hair doesn’t look as if it conforms to LDS dress code. Classic oldschool California hippie look, also adopted by New Agers.

    Speaking of wacko religions, here’s one that’s promoting pernicious quackery, including preying on a young woman with brain cancer.

    Someone should get this on Orac’s radar , and they should come in for some ferocious Insolence. Article here:

    Extropian cryogenics, aka Alcor, the Freezers for Geezers club. Liquid nitrogen today, reincarnation (in the world of) tomorrow, and the price is only $120K for a full-body corpsicle or $80K to freeze your severed head. Really.

    As the old saying goes, if you can’t get a life, at least you can get a head.

  110. […] preventable death of a 19-month-old Canadian child have made the rounds this week. The case was discussed by friend of Science-Based Medicine Orac (who I believe is some kind of a protocol droid) on […]

  111. #112 RTMan
    March 12, 2016


    The parents are complaining about the on-line threats they are receiving:

    Unfortunately, these on-line treats feed into their persecution complex (or maybe in this case their prosecution complex?).

  112. […] you by the medical police state. It’s something I had meant to write about earlier, but I was sidetracked by quacks killing a baby, Facebook’s having become a tool for antivaccine loons to use to […]

  113. #114 Mrs Woo
    Too early to contemplate
    March 16, 2016

    Mr Woo belongs to an offshoot of the original offshoot: the ones that stayed behind after Joseph Smith died and Brigham Young took the group to Utah. To the number, all see Naturopaths and chiropractors and have large collections by natural healers. I am not sure if the word of wisdom and instructions in their Doctrine and Covenants is part of what inspired their behavior (they are told God provides herbs, etc., for healing, and “how” to handle sick people), or if it is just a general distrust of outsiders. One of our friends is the son of a chiropractor. Our friend’s mother developed heart failure and is losing circulation to her limbs rapidly. With what I see in our congregation, and knowing that the family is also anti-vaccine/natural healing and my experience with Mr Woo’s untreated diabetes and two strokes, a part of me worries her husband has been treating her diabetes “naturopathically” and she has developed severe complications as a result.

    Note – this is not a suggestion that all of them behave this way. I see several who use doctors for plenty of rational reasons. However, there seems to be a stronger than normal attraction to “alternative medicine” and a greater faith in its ability to cure serious illness.

  114. #115 Graham Shevlin
    March 16, 2016

    Threats against people online are reprehensible. However, my question is why the hell are this couple even posting on social media in the first place while they are on trial? Any defense lawyer worth a dime would have told them that the best course of action is for them to say nothing, stay off of social media and focus on their court defense. if they consistently sound of on social media, they have to take the rough with the smooth.

  115. #116 Delphine
    March 16, 2016

    However, my question is why the hell are this couple even posting on social media in the first place while they are on trial?

    Attention. And money. In equal measures.

  116. #117 Delphine
    March 16, 2016


    One thing I’ve learned in watching these types – they don’t play by the same rules as us regular folk. Edicts and admonishments from counsel would be wasted breath.

  117. #118 Dorothy Mantooth
    March 27, 2016

    (Sorry, I know this is a slightly older post.)

    I have some *slight* sympathy for the “The socialized-medicine ER would have just sent us home,” argument. Very slight. Only because it’s happened to me/my children; I learned very quickly after moving to the UK that you never receive actual treatment on your first GP visit. They will always tell you to come back in a few days if it gets worse. (They sent my husband, who presented at the GP’s office with bronchitis so bad that his every breath was accompanied by audible sucking noises from his lungs, home with no medicine after telling him cheerfully, “You seem like a healthy young man, you can probably fight this off. Come back if you start coughing up blood.” I made him go back the next day and told him to refuse to leave if he wasn’t given antibiotics; luckily he was, and got better.) I have numerous times taken my kids to the GP’s office with coughs that lasted over a week or colds that caused breathing troubles and been told there’s nothing to do but wait, with not even a script for any kind of cough relief or expectorant.

    However. That *slight* sympathy only lasts for the first few days of their son’s illness, because A) this is a toddler, not an older child, and although mine rarely required doctor’s visits as pre-k-ers (and we didn’t move here until our oldest was four, so I only had experience with taking one toddler to the doc), I am sure that it’s different for children that young; B) it should have become clear to them that this was not an ordinary cold; C) they were told at least twice that it could be meningitis; D) if you know you’ll be sent home with nothing on your first visit, you make that first effing visit right away so you can then make the second and get treatment, because E) it’s your job as a parent to force the ER docs/GP to listen to all the symptoms and to you and to do something for your child. You don’t just shrug. You don’t decide that since they probably won’t take it seriously you won’t bother, you *make* them take it seriously.

    And again, after the first few days this argument becomes ridiculous, because no ER doc is going to dismiss a child with those symptoms. Especially not a child that young.

    And…does anyone find it interesting that the naturopath chose to use “Tannis” as a last name (I assume it’s not her real name, since she seems to be listed under a different legal name but just called “Tracy Tannis?” Anyone ever read or seen ROSEMARY’S BABY? Tannis root was the stinky herb in the necklace given to a pregnant Rosemary, and a major component of the awful “nutrition drinks” given to her by her Satanist neighbors, both of which were intended to nurture and support the growing fetus-of-Satan in her womb. Rosemary, in constant pain, pale, and weak, immediately felt better when she removed the necklace and stopped drinking the greenish tannis-root-shakes.

    Just a fun fact, there.

  118. […] the parents are naturalistic fanatics and against science-based medicine, it can be nearly impossible to demonstrate that their child […]

  119. […] thorough (and unvarnished) reading on this from evidence-based medical perspectives HERE and HERE And HERE is just one example of the father’s anti-vax musings […]

  120. […] a 19 month old boy named Ezekiel Stephan, who died of bacterial meningitis because his parents relied on quackery to treat him instead of real medicine, and the baby died of his meningitis and an empyema, which is a collection of pus in the pleural […]

  121. #122 titmouse
    April 6, 2016

    I think somebody mentioned that Yahshua is the name for Jesus, per the Assembly of Yahweh, 7th Day, a religious sect I had never heard of until I read about the Wilks brothers who live in Cisco Tx. These guys made their money in fracking and they are pastors in this church. They are billionaires and major doners to Ted Cruz. I am hoping they are not antivax also.

  122. […] a 19 month old boy named Ezekiel Stephan, who died of bacterial meningitis because his parents relied on quackery to treat him instead of real medicine, and the baby died of his meningitis and an empyema, which is a collection of pus in the pleural […]

  123. […] the parents are naturalistic fanatics and against science-based medicine, it can be nearly impossible to demonstrate that their child […]

  124. […] to a real doctor. Instead, they relied on herbal remedies and consulted a naturopath while their child suffered and died. As a result, they were put on trial for failing to provide the necessaries of life for Ezekiel. […]

  125. #126 Susan
    May 7, 2016

    This whole blog is very disturbing to read. To think that all of you pose as christians, but everyone wants to hurt, torture or even kill these people. Your breaking 2 of the 10 commandments, thou shalt not pass judgement and thou shalt not kill.
    These people have their own beliefs and have the right to. This doesn’t mean they purposely hurt their child. The child was the victim, which is extremely sad, from a bad choice. How many other children have been purposely killed in foster homes that the social services and courts decided to put them in, Nobody is threatening to hurt these people who made these decisions to place the children there, nor have they been charged with child neglect.
    As for vaccines that again is a personal choice. You can either inject your child with a vaccine topped up with mercury and aluminum (a known true FACT) or make the choice not to.
    I have lived for 47 years by naturopathic doctors and will continue to do so, but that is my choice. And NO I’m not an idiot I am very well educated. I have also been turned away from the emergency ward @ the U of A Hospital after waiting for 7 hours to have my daughter looked at, with the snide remark “what do you want us to do about it”.

    -Did you know “Bill Gates” holds the Patent on HIV and he also holds the Patent on the CURE for HIV, you can search Patent Databases for it. But doctors play along with the game.
    -Search the US Commissions and Securities. Type in Canada, it will show up under Foreign Countries with a Corporate Registry number. This means Canada is a Corporation. A Government CAN NOT be a Corporation and a Government at the same time, its one or the other.
    – Corporations CAN NOT enforce Criminal Law. The Corporate Canada knows this, every Lawyer who is a member of the BAR knows this and yet they put these people on trial knowing they did have the right to.
    – Did you know that when you register the birth of your child you have just signed over legal guardianship to the Government (Corporate Canada) of your child. Why do you think they can tell you how to raise your child or remove your child from your home without being charged with kidnapping.
    – People had better wake up and smell the coffee. Some of you talk like your well educated, but I’m reading you don’t know anything, all talk. Find out the truth about absolutely everything before you start making such unintelligent comments.

  126. #127 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    May 7, 2016


    This whole blog is very disturbing to read.

    I find the facts of this case disturbing as well. To think that people in this day and age could be so opposed to proper medical treatment that they let their child die rather than get it is very disturbing.

    To think that all of you pose as christians, but everyone wants to hurt, torture or even kill these people.

    I’ve seen no one posting here posing as a Christian. While there are one or two messages above discussing elaborate revenge fantasies, there are also comments disagreeing with those and disavowing them.

    Your breaking 2 of the 10 commandments, thou shalt not pass judgement and thou shalt not kill.

    Nobody has killed anyone in this thread, at least so far as I know. And “thou shalt not pass judgment” is not one of the 10 Commandments. Perhaps you’re thinking of Matthew 7:1-2, but that doesn’t mean “thou shalt not pass judgment” either.

    You can either inject your child with a vaccine topped up with mercury and aluminum (a known true FACT) or make the choice not to.

    With the exception of the influenza vaccine – which is also available in single dose vials without preservatives – no vaccines on the childhood schedule contain mercury. I’d be interested in the formulation that says “top off with aluminum”, though. Please be aware that when you decide not to protect your child with vaccines you leave your child open to the risks of the diseases themselves – measles, diphtheria, pertussis, typhoid, mumps, polio, and so on.

    I have lived for 47 years by naturopathic doctors and will continue to do so

    By that do you mean you live next door to the Smiths, a lovely older couple who are naturopaths?

    Did you know “Bill Gates” holds the Patent on HIV and he also holds the Patent on the CURE for HIV,

    Why, no, I did not know that. Surely you can provide the patent number for the cure to HIV. You can also, perhaps, explain why someone isn’t making a quick – yet honest – buck selling this cure in a country that doesn’t respect US or Canadian patent law.

    his means Canada is a Corporation. A Government CAN NOT be a Corporation and a Government at the same time, its one or the other.

    OK, now you’re just being silly. When I look up Canada in EDGAR, it shows SIC 8888 – FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS. Just like the country of Japan or the Republic of Turkey. These governments, or government entities, have chosen to sell securities in the US and thus are required to register and provide financial reports. Of course, this makes your next point moot.

    Did you know that when you register the birth of your child you have just signed over legal guardianship to the Government (Corporate Canada) of your child.

    This is a novel reading of the fine print on the birth certificate.

    Why do you think they can tell you how to raise your child or remove your child from your home without being charged with kidnapping.

    Because they’re, what’s the right word, a GOVERNMENT? Because they have the ability to make and enforce laws?

    Find out the truth about absolutely everything before you start making such unintelligent comments.

    Sound advice for anyone.

  127. #128 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    May 7, 2016

    People had better wake up and smell the coffee.


    I find that coffee helps you wake up better if you drink it rather than just smelling it. But to each her/his own.

  128. #129 Chris
    May 7, 2016

    So, Susan, you would prefer that children suffer from natural diseases, get high fevers and meningitis. You really are not a very nice person, nor are you very intelligent.

    This is hilarious: “-Did you know “Bill Gates” holds the Patent on HIV …”

    So while he and Paul Allen were just getting Microsoft started in the 1980s, he invented a virus?

  129. #130 herr doktor bimler
    May 7, 2016

    I have lived for 47 years by naturopathic doctors and will continue to do so

    Sounds like a bad neighbourhood.

    Did you know “Bill Gates” holds the Patent on HIV

    Me, I am intrigued by the quotes around his name. If that’s not his actual name, what is? Is it pronounceable by humans?

  130. #131 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    May 7, 2016

    That’s William Henry “Bill” Gates III to you.

    Unless he’s been replaced by a look-alike, which we all know happened to “Paul McCartney” (or should we call him Billy Shears?).

  131. […] But let’s pass over to Orac (better known as Dr David Gorski) to comment upon it within an excellent post … […]

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