Cape Coral child abuse, neglect suspects face First Degree Murder charge

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Ryan O'Leary and Sheila O'Leary. (Credit Lee County Sheriff's Office.)
Ryan O’Leary and Sheila O’Leary. (Credit Lee County Sheriff’s Office.)

In a press conference on Wednesday, the State Attorney’s Office says it will add additional charges, including First Degree Murder, against two Cape Coral child abuse and neglect suspects.

The suspects, Ryan O’Leary, 30, and Sheila O’Leary, 35, will now face charges for First Degree Murder, Aggravated Child Abuse, Aggravated Manslaughter, Child Abuse, and two counts of Child Neglect.

The O’Learys originally faced charges for Aggravated Manslaughter of a Child (Neglect), Child Neglect Causing Great Bodily Harm and Child Neglect Without Great Bodily Harm after police went to their home and found their 18-month-old son was not breathing and was later pronounced dead at the family’s home. His cause of death was extreme malnutrition.

The announcement of the indictment by State Attorney Amira Fox and Cape Coral Police Chief David Newlan also involves three other victims, a 3-year-old, a 5-year-old, and an 11-year-old child, who suffered from child abuse and extreme neglect. The alleged crimes occurred during 2019 in Cape Coral.

The family was not facing any form of food insecurity since Ryan O’Leary was employed at a local grocery store. Sheila O’Leary was already under review by Child and Family Services in the State of Virgina for subjecting the 11-year-old child to a “failure to thrive and severe malnutrion, but they left the state.

One of the couples’ Cape Coral neighbors, Sara Cagle, said last month she never knew the O’Leary family but wishes she could have helped.

“As a neighbor, I wish there was something that I would’ve known,” Cagle said. “And as a mom, it’s horrible — it’s horrible.”

The defendants will be arraigned on the charges in this indictment on Dec. 23 at 9 a.m. in front of the Honorable Judge Margaret Steinbeck.

“The evidence and crime scene in this case are gut-wrenching,” Fox said. “These are images as a mother and State Attorney I will not be able to forget.”

Ryan O’Leary, and Sheila O’Leary made their first appearances Thursday morning and were denied bond. Their next court date is scheduled for December 23, at 8 a.m.

Watch the announcement below:

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