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Mass arrests of cult members over alleged murder of Toowoomba girl, 8

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A dozen members of a religious cult have been arrested after an eight-year-old Queensland girl was allegedly left to die by her parents.

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Elizabeth Rose Struhs died six months ago after her parents allegedly withheld her diabetes medication, denying her medical treatment for six days.

Kerrie Elizabeth Struhs, 46, and Jason Richard Struhs, 50, have been charged with murder, torture and failure to provide necessities of life.

The girl died on January 7 and her body was found in the family home in Rangeville, Toowoomba, on January 8.

Queensland Police will allege in court that instead of calling paramedics, the parents gathered members of their church to pray over the girl’s body.

Seven women and five men, aged 19 to 64, are now accused of being aware of her declining health but failing to call for medical help or alert authorities.

All 12 are expected to be charged with murder, taking the number of people now charged over the child’s death to 14.

Regional Crime Coordinator Detective Acting Superintendent Garry Watts said arrests followed a six-month investigation.

“It will be alleged that 14 people in total made the choice to deny this young girl her right to medical care,” Detective Acting Superintendent Watts said.

“In my nearly 40 years of policing, I haven’t been faced with a matter like this.

“It’s a very complex investigation and I’m not aware of a similar event in Queensland, let alone Australia.”

All 12 are expected to be charged with murder, taking the number of people now charged over the child’s death to 14.

The men and women are expected to face court on Wednesday.

Supt Watts said the members were arrested at a Homestead Avenue property, in the suburb of Harristown on the outskirts of Toowoomba, west of Brisbane.

All 12 were allegedly members of the religious group, comprising three families.

The girl’s elder, adult sister, Jayde Struhs, has claimed the parents were members of a “fear-driven religious cult”.

“Elizabeth Rose Struhs was taken from us far too soon, and a lifetime of memories that we never got to have with her was gone in a moment,” Struhs wrote on her GoFundMe page.

“Her brave spirit in the face of medical adversity was inspiring. She was a bright light on all that met her.”

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