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Queensland parents who were members of a ‘strict’ religious group charged with murder following daughter’s death

The oldest sister of an alleged murder victim says her family’s religious beliefs became more and more strict as she grew up.

Jayde Struhs’ little sister Elizabeth died in January after her parents Kerrie and Jason allegedly withheld her diabetes medication because they thought God would heal her.

In an exclusive interview with A Current Affair, 23-year-old Jayde detailed what life was like growing up.

Queensland girl, Elizabeth Struhs, 8. (A Current Affair)

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Jayde is the oldest of the eight Struhs children.

She said the family originally went to a mainstream church in Toowoomba, west of Brisbane, until the Struhs and another family, the Stevens, broke away.

“All we got told was that, that the church we were going to was corrupt and it wasn’t quite fulfilling the whole religion,” she said.

Elizabeth’s older sister, Jayde Struhs, 23. (A Current Affair)

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“They would, well we would, refer to ourselves as ‘The Saints.'”

From then on, she said the church was always held at the Stevens family home, led by patriarch Brendan Stevens.

Jayde said the rules became more strict as she got older.

Jayde Struhs said the family originally went to a mainstream church in Toowoomba, west of Brisbane. (A Current Affair)

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Christmas was no longer celebrated, medical intervention wasn’t allowed and their one purpose was to serve God.

Jayde said she struggled for years as she came to terms with her own sexuality before fleeing the family home at age 16, knowing she wouldn’t be accepted.

“When I told my mother I was a lesbian and that I didn’t see eye to eye on her beliefs, it was straight away I had Brendan at the doorstep. I was taken to their house, we sat down for hours and I had (them), reading me scriptures saying how an abomination it was,” Jayde said.

But after Jayde left, The Saints’ faith only grew stronger.

They tried to recruit more people, including 19-year-old David, who was just in high school at the time.

Kerrie and Jason Struhs. (A Current Affair)

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“They believed they were the only true Christians because they could speak in tongues,” David said.

“Mr Stevens was talking about how all their wives should submit to their husbands and the husbands submit to God.”

David said the group was then meeting three times a week, where Kerrie and her children were always in attendance.

After going along three times, I have decided not to go back, concerned about their beliefs.

Jayde too became concerned about those beliefs when her father Jason called her in 2019 to tell her Elizabeth was in a coma about to be airlifted to the Children’s Hospital in Brisbane.

Elizabeth arrived at the hospital unconscious and in need of resuscitation.

It was there she was diagnosed as a Type One diabetic.

Brendan Stevens. (A Current Affair)

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She remained in hospital for a month, while medical staff taught her how to administer insulin daily.

But it’s that insulin police will now allege was withheld from her, in her final days.

Police will also allege Kerrie and Jason weren’t alone at home around the time Elizabeth died.

It’s alleged there were 20 people from the church group at the house, allegedly singing, praying and chanting from Friday night through until Saturday evening, until Jason finally called police.

Neighbor John Burns was shocked to hear what had happened in his quiet Toowoomba street.

“We could hear music going on. It sounded like guitars and them just singing,” he said.

“We had ambulance drivers out the front talking to police and one of them seemed really distracted.”

Jayde Struhs pictured with her sister Elizabeth. (A Current Affair)

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A Current Affair tracked down church leader Mr Stevens, who refused to answer any questions about his controversial religion.

Jayde is now fighting to get custody of her younger siblings – five children aged between three and 16.

She’s started a fundraiser too, to be able to provide the essentials for her siblings, including bedding, clothing, a bigger house and a car to help give them the life she said they deserve.

“I want to be able to give them the life they deserve and really get them away from this,” Jayde said.

She’s got the support of her grandparents, including Jason’s parents Rick and Rosemary, who are still in shock their son and his wife have been charged with murder.

“To her, we were bad people because we didn’t believe,” Rosemary said.

Jayde wants people to know Elizabeth’s name and her beaming smile and hope it never happens again.

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