News Release from: Clackamas Co. Sheriff's Office
Posted: Thursday, March 9, 2017, 4:39 p.m.
Please reference CCSO Case #17-6024
UPDATE (June 5th, 2017, 3:03 p.m.) -- Sheriff's Office completes investigation into death of infant born to members of Followers of Christ Church; Sarah and Travis Mitchell in custody at Clackamas County Jail
On Monday, June 5, 2017, Sarah Elaine Mitchell (age 24) and Travis Lee Mitchell (age 21) turned themselves in to the Clackamas County Jail, where they were booked on charges of Murder and Criminal Mistreatment arising out of warrants that had been issued. The warrants are no-bail.
Both will be arraigned tomorrow (Tuesday, June 6).
EARLIER (Thursday, March 9, 2017, 4:39 p.m.)
The Clackamas County Sheriff's Office is investigating the death of an infant born to members of the Followers of Christ Church.
On Sunday afternoon, March 5, 2017, Sarah Mitchell -- 24, of Oregon City -- gave birth to two premature twin girls. The second infant developed apparent breathing complications and died a few hours later.
Sarah Mitchell and her husband Travis Lee Mitchell, 21, are members of the Followers of Christ Church in Oregon City. Church members practice faith healing and reject medical care and medicine in favor of prayer and anointment with oil.
Sarah Mitchell is the sister of Shannon Hickman -- who (along with her husband Dale Hickman) was found guilty in Clackamas County Circuit Court in 2011 of second-degree manslaughter following the 2009 death of her infant son fewer than nine hours after delivery. Shannon and Dale Hickman are currently each serving out six-year prison sentences, to be followed by three years of post-prison supervision. Details on this previous case (and other cases involving members of the Followers of Christ) can be found in the Oregonian archives.
Sarah Mitchell delivered the two infants in the home of her parents, Walter Matthew White and Karen White, in Oregon City. Present for the birth were family members and fellow members of the Followers of Christ congregation, including three birthing assistants.
After the second baby developed apparent breathing problems following delivery and died in the home, church elder Carl Hansen contacted the Clackamas County Medical Examiner to report the death.
No one present for the birth contacted 911.
The medical examiner responded to the scene and determined that the surviving infant needed medical attention. The medical examiner contacted law enforcement personnel -- who persuaded the family to seek professional medical care.
The Clackamas County Medical Examiner completed its autopsy of the infant on Monday, March 6, 2017. The cause-of-death investigation is ongoing; results are pending at this writing.
The surviving baby is currently in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland.
Clackamas County Sheriff's Office detectives are currently investigating the infant's death -- collecting and processing evidence, reconstructing the timeline of events, and interviewing witnesses to the births as well as members of the family and Followers of Christ Church.
The Sheriff's Office cannot comment further on details of the investigation at this time. When the investigation is completed, Detectives will deliver the case to the Clackamas County District Attorney's Office for consideration for prosecution.
Detectives are seeking additional tips in the case.
ADDITIONAL TIPS SOUGHT
Anyone with information on the March 5 death of the infant is urged to contact the Sheriff's Office Tip Line -- by phone at 503-723-4949 or by using the online email form. Please reference CCSO Case # 17-6024.
Sergeant Brian Jensen
Office of Public Information
Clackamas County Sheriff's Office