Man’s court declare as spiritual cult to face trial over 8yo’s dying

January 14, 2024by Naomi Cramer


A member of a small spiritual cult accused of killing an eight-year-old diabetic woman by withholding the child’s insulin medicine claimed the group “adopted the Bible”.

Lachlan Stuart Schoenfisch’s feedback throughout court proceedings could be revealed as he and 13 others put together to face trial within the Supreme Court, accused of inflicting the dying of Toowoomba woman Elizabeth Struhs two years in the past.

Mr Schoenfisch and his spouse, Samantha Emily Schoenfisch, are members of a tightly-knit spiritual circle generally known as The Saints, based mostly out of Toowoomba.

Lachlan Stuart Schoenfisch with his wife Samantha (left) confronted by A Current Affair in February 2022. Picture: Supplied / ACA
Digicam IconLachlan Stuart Schoenfisch together with his spouse Samantha (left) confronted by A Present Affair movie crews in February 2022. They’ve each been charged with the manslaughter of Elizabeth Struhs. Provided / ACA Credit score: Channel 9

The opposite 12 members embody Elizabeth’s parents Jason Richard Struhs and Kerrie Elizabeth Struhs, older brother Zachary Alan Struhs, Brendan Luke Stevens, Loretta Mary Stevens, Acacia Naree Stevens, Therese Maria Stevens, Sebastian James Stevens, Andrea Louise Stevens, Camellia Claire Stevens, Alexander Francis Stevens and Keita Courtney Martin.

Brendan Stevens and Jason Struhs have each been indicted on fees of homicide, whereas the opposite 12 have been indicted on fees of manslaughter solely.

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The Crown alleges the group – who consider within the therapeutic energy of God and shun medical intervention in human life – withheld Elizabeth’s medicine for her Kind 1 diabetes for days at her family’s Rangeville dwelling.

Elizabeth Struhs (pictured) died at her family’s Rangeville home on January 7, 2022, allegedly after her insulin medication was held for days by members of a religious fellowship, including her parents. Supplied
Digicam IconElizabeth Struhs (pictured) died at her household’s Rangeville dwelling on January 7, 2022, allegedly after her insulin medicine was held for days by members of a non secular fellowship, together with her parents. Provided Credit score: Information Corp Australia
Court documents have revealed the comments Mr Schoenfisch made during his committal on November 16, 2022, where he claimed the group “followed the Bible”. Supplied
Digicam IconCourt paperwork have revealed the feedback Mr Schoenfisch made throughout his committal on November 16, 2022, the place he claimed the group “adopted the Bible”. Provided Credit score: Information Corp Australia

It’s alleged the group as an alternative opted to wish for God to heal the woman as an alternative of searching for medical assist, till she died on January 7.

In court paperwork obtained by NCA NewsWire, Mr Schoenfisch is alleged to have advised police the woman’s “everlasting life is extra necessary”.

A transcript of committal proceedings on November 16, 2022, reveals Mr Schoenfisch claimed the fellowship adopted the teachings of the Bible “which doesn’t say something about calling docs”.

“It says pray, lay palms on the sick and the prayer of religion will save the sick,” the transcript states Mr Schoenfisch advised Toowoomba Magistrates Court.

“So we did, so far as the Bible is anxious, all the things.”

“And we by no means at any level believed or did consider or nonetheless do consider, that (Elizabeth) would die or that she is lifeless. That isn’t what we consider.”

Based on the transcript, Mr Schoenfisch tells Justice of the Peace Louise Shepherd the group solely ever had “love” for the woman and claimed she was “being tormented day by day, being pressured to take these things towards her will”.

Lachlan Stuart Schoenfisch with his wife Samantha (left) confronted by A Current Affair in February 2022. Picture: Supplied / ACA
Digicam IconMr Schoenfisch is alleged to have inspired Jason, Elizabeth’s father, to stay steadfast in his choice to cease giving his daughter insulin in early 2022. Provided / ACA Credit score: Channel 9

He claims homicide was “all the time having hate in your coronary heart in direction of your fellow man … so far as God is anxious”.

“The regulation which now we have now, similar to it’s, originated with the regulation given by Moses, which was introduced ahead to show folks how – the center they’re purported to have in direction of God and their fellow man,” Mr Schoenfisch mentioned.

“The regulation has been regularly eroded and corrupted and modifications on a weekly foundation.

“We simply wished to offer her the prospect to comply with her spiritual beliefs, which is similar as our spiritual beliefs.

“And if a court or a jury or a decide decides that that’s homicide, so be it.”

Based on police allegations within the court paperwork, Mr Schoenfisch understood the child had diabetes and wanted a number of injections per day, in any other case her “bodily physique may die”.

Jason Richard Struhs and Kerrie Elizabeth Struhs, Elizabeth’s parents. Supplied
Digicam IconJason Richard Struhs and Kerrie Elizabeth Struhs, Elizabeth’s parents. Provided Credit score: Provided

The group advised Jason they didn’t just like the insulin due to their beliefs.

The paperwork allege Jason struggled with the choice to cease giving his daughter her medicine – to which Mr Schoenfisch “inspired him” by “suggesting he pray within the Holy Spirit … and be keen to be led of the spirit and sing praises to God”.

It’s alleged Elizabeth turned ailing after her insulin was ceased in early 2022.

Mr Schoenfisch allegedly mentioned it was an “sudden growth” because the fellowship believed she had been healed.

Members of the group – together with Mr Schoenfisch and his spouse – have been referred to as to the Struhs’ dwelling to wish and “sing reward to God” over a number of days.

The paperwork allege Mr Schoenfisch said he continued help Jason to stay “steadfast” in his choice to cease the medicine as a result of: “The reality is the spirit and the world and physique is short-term. Everybody dies and it doesn’t matter. Crucial factor is to serve God.”

Brendan Luke Stevens, the leader of The Saints, is charged with Elizabeth’s murder alongside Jason Struhs. Supplied / ACA
Digicam IconBrendan Luke Stevens, the chief of The Saints, is charged with Elizabeth’s homicide alongside Jason Struhs. Provided / ACA Credit score: Provided

It’s alleged he ready fruit for the woman, serving to her go to the bathroom and sat her up and gave her water.

“In his digital document of interview, Mr Schoenfisch was requested why he watched (her) die over these days, understanding she wanted insulin to stay … (he) replied: As a result of everlasting life is extra necessary,” the paperwork allege.

Mr Schoenfisch, who was initially charged with homicide, was dedicated to face trial following the listening to.

He’s now solely going through a cost of manslaughter.

A judge-only Supreme Court trial for the 14-co-accused was ordered by Chief Justice Helen Bowskill on November 28 final yr.

Since their arrests, all 14 members of the group have refused to hunt authorized recommendation and maintained they are going to characterize themselves.

None have utilized for bail.



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by Naomi Cramer

Auckland Lawyer for FIRST TIME Offenders Seeking to Avoid a Conviction. Family Law Expert in Child Care Custody Disputes. If you are facing Court Naomi will make you feel comfortable every step of the way.  As a consummate professional your goals become hers, with customer service as our top priority. It has always been Naomi’s philosophy to approach whatever you do in life with bold enthusiasm and pure dedication. Complement this with her genuine passion for equal justice and rights for all and you have the formula for success. Naomi is a highly skilled Court lawyer having practised for more than 20 years. She serves the greater Auckland region and can travel to represent clients throughout NZ With extensive experience, an analytical eye for detail, and continuing legal education Naomi’s skill set will maximise your legal rights whilst offering a holistic approach that best fits your individual needs. This is further enhanced with her high level of support and understanding. Naomi will redefine what you expect from your legal professional, facilitating a seamless experience from start to finish.   Her approachable and adaptive demeanor serves her well when working with the diverse cultures that make up the Auckland region. Blend her open and honest approach to her transparent process and you can see why she routinely delivers the satisfying results her clients deserve. If you want to maximise your legal rights, we recommend you book an appointment with Naomi today so she can detail the steps for you to achieve your goals. 

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