Minnesota parents accused of child neglect in the death of their 7-year-old son have fled to New Zealand, according to authorities.
Little Seth Johnson died in the care of his 16-year-old brother as their parents attended a wedding in March of 2015.
Timothy and Sarah Johnson, charged with gross misdemeanor child neglect, were a no-show at their first court appearance Tuesday in Hennepin County.
It turns out they have bolted to New Zealand, Assistant Hennepin County Attorney John Halla told Judge Gina Brandt.
Halla asked for a new court date “in order to attempt international service on Mr. Johnson and his wife,” according to the Star Tribune. Warrants were issued for the parents’ arrests.
Seth had an inflamed pancreas, bruises on his body and possibly some infections when he died, according to criminal complaints obtained by the Star Tribune. The parents told investigators they depended on their own research to deal with Seth’s illness, according to the newspaper.
The parents left town for the wedding three days before Seth died. When he returned home, Timothy Johnson attempted to save his son with CPR.
The medical examiner found that Seth died of acute pancreatitis and possible sepsis, but could not link the cause of death to the behavior of the parents.
As a result, the parents were only charged with the gross misdemeanor, according to a statement by the County Attorney’s office last month.
“We cannot comprehend how a parent would leave a very sick seven-year-old to the care of a 16-year-old so they can go away for a weekend,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said in January.
If convicted, the parents face one year in jail and a possible fine.