Sauk County judge sets $5,000 bond in Nigerian fasting case
REEDSBURG — A Sauk County judge set a $5,000 cash bond Wednesday for a Nigerian native accused of starving her two sons — one of them to death — as part of a religious fast.
A Sauk County jail clerk confirmed that 48-year-old Titilayo A. Omosebi, one of two people charged in the case, had not posted bond as of Thursday afternoon.
If she does, Omosebi may have no contact with her living son unless approved by a social worker or their designee. Her passport would be held by the Reedsburg Police Department while the case is pending and she would not be allowed to leave Wisconsin.
Omosebi and her husband, Kehindi, 49, were taken into custody Sept. 3 after he walked from their Reedsburg home to the police department to report their son’s death.
Police who later entered the residence on the 600 block of Alexander Avenue reported that it was bare. There was nothing in the cabinets, no furniture, and no decorations.
A detective reported that she could immediately smell the odor of death. In a bedroom, officers found four metal folding chairs facing each other in a square pattern.
Sitting in one of the chairs was the Omosebis’ deceased 15-year-old son, according to the criminal complaint. He was wearing a grey sweatshirt with the hood pulled over his head.
A detective reported that the teen appeared to be “extremely emaciated,” and that she could easily see his backbones and ribs under his skin.
The complaint said family members believed they started fasting nearly seven weeks prior, sometime between July 17 and 20. The father told police the family had fasted before, but never that long.
The family apparently wanted to relocate, and was fasting until it received a “blessing from God.” Reedsburg police said the father reported that he was a minister with Cornerstone Reformation Ministries.
There is a Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church in Reedsburg. However, a Sept. 3 post on the church’s Facebook page says it “is in NO WAY affiliated with this family or the Cornerstone Reformation Ministries the father of this young man stated he was connected with.”
The father told police his son died three days before police were contacted, on what was supposed to be the last day of their fast. The family then conducted two days of prayer for the deceased, according to the complaint, before the father reported the death.
The complaint says investigators found a letter inside the home signed in the name of the couple’s other son, an 11-year-old boy. It was addressed to “Lawyers of Sauk County Circuit Court.”
According to the complaint, the letter said it had been five days since the boy had eaten food. It included the following statements: “The hunger is too much Please help me now so I may eat,” “I can’t continue in such a life with no food” and “If I don’t get food now I’ll probably die of hunger.”
A Nigerian newspaper, the New Telegraph, reported this month that Titilayo Omosebi’s brother posted about the case on social media.
The brother claimed Titilayo married Kehindi in Nigeria 13 years ago before she won a visa lottery. They then traveled to the U.S., the brother said, but have since been heard from very little.
In the social media post, the brother alleged that Kehindi had mistreated his sister and prevented her from making contact with her family in Nigeria.
Kehindi Omosebi also has been jailed on a $5,000 cash bond. The husband and wife each face two counts of felony child neglect, one causing great bodily harm and one causing death.
If convicted, they face more than 27 years in prison.