CCSO: Another baby dead in Followers of Christ Church case
The sister of the woman who was found guilty of second-degree manslaughter following the 2009 faith-healing death of her infant son is now suspected of repeating the crime against another newborn.
Clackamas County deputies say that on Sunday afternoon, March 5, Sarah Mitchell, 24, of Oregon City, gave birth to two girls. The second infant developed apparent breathing complications and died a few hours later at the home of her parents, Walter Matthew White and Karen White, in the 14000 block of S. Loder Rd. in Oregon City.
Sarah Mitchell is the sister of Shannon Hickman, who along with her husband, Dale Hickman, was found guilty in Clackamas County Circuit Court in 2011 for the 2009 death of her infant fewer than nine hours after delivery. They are currently each serving out six-year prison sentences, to be followed by three years of post-prison supervision.
CCSO Detective Sergeant Dan Kraus said that family members, fellow members of the Followers of Christ congregation and three midwives were present at the latest suspicious birth. After the second baby developed apparent breathing problems and died, church elder Carl Hansen contacted the Clackamas County Medical Examiner.
"No one present for the birth contacted 911," Kraus said. "The surviving baby is believed to be several weeks premature, and is currently in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Oregon Health & Science University."
Sarah Mitchell and her husband, Travis Lee Mitchell, 21, are members of the Followers of Christ Church in Oregon City, where members have been convicted before of practicing faith healing on their children, rejecting medical care and medicine in favor of prayer and anointment with oil.
On March 5, the medical examiner responded to the scene and determined that the surviving infant needed medical attention. The medical examiner contacted law enforcement personnel, who persuaded the family to seek professional medical care.
Although the Clackamas County Medical Examiner completed an autopsy of the infant on March 6, Kraus said that it will not be released due to the ongoing investigation. CCSO detectives are collecting and processing evidence, reconstructing the timeline of events, and interviewing witnesses to the births as well as members of the family and Followers of Christ Church. Detectives will deliver their case to the Clackamas County District Attorney's Office for consideration for prosecution.
Detectives are seeking additional information on the March 5 death of the infant by phone at 503-723-4949 or by using the online email form at http://web3.clackamas.us/contact/tip.jsp . Please reference CCSO Case # 17-6024.