Berks couple charged in death of 2-year-old daughter

Pathologist: Girl would have had 104-degree fever

Berks couple charged in death of...

READING, Pa. - A Berks County couple stand accused of failing to seek medical treatment for their two year-old daughter, who subsequently died of pneumonia, authorities said.

Jonathan Foster, 34, and Grace Foster, 32, surrendered to a district magistrate Wednesday afternoon on charges of involuntary manslaughter, a second-degree felony, and endangering the welfare of children, a first-degree misdemeanor.

The couple's daughter, Ella Grace Foster, died at the family's home in Upper Tulpehocken Township on November 8, 2016, according to Berks County District Attorney John Adams.

The family told police she'd been sick for a couple days and then died in their arms. The family did not know the cause. Two days later an autopsy revealed why.

"The cause of death was pneumonia," said Adams. "Very treatable."

At the time of her death, authorities said Ella would've had extreme difficulty breathing and a fever of around 104 degrees.

Police said they were notified of the girl's death by a funeral home.

The Fosters told investigators that, because of their religion as members of Faith Tabernacle Church in Lebanon, they believe in the power of prayer over medicine and doctors.

The church's pastor told 69 News that he did not want to comment on the case.

Family members said the couple have six other children, the oldest being 11 years old and the youngest being seven months old.

A sister of Jonathan, who didn't want to give her name, said she knows people might not understand, but for her congregation, trusting God is as easy as breathing.

"God is merciful and just," she said. "He's good and loves us. Anything we've faced so far, he's carried us through. In the end, we trust that his name will be glorified by the way we handled it."

The Fosters were freed on unsecured bail Wednesday. They're due back in court next Wednesday for a preliminary hearing. The couple said they're still in mourning.

"But I believe all will be well," said Jonathon Foster's sister.

This isn't the first for this denomination. It's been involved in similar cases around the country.

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