Les and Celeste Chappell noticed something was wrong with their children in 2005, The Washington Post reported.
After a family dinner, Les and Celeste noticed that three of their 10 children’s seemingly minor health problems were turning serious. Christopher, Elizabeth, and James Chappell were having issues with their sight; Christopher and Elizabeth were beginning to have seizures.
The Chappells decided to take their ailing children to get medical help, hoping to get some definitive answers on what was wrong. That’s when specialists gave the children a gut-wrenching diagnosis — juvenile Batten disease.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Batten disease is a genetic and fatal disorder of the nervous system. Symptoms typically appear by age 5 and usually come in the form of vision problems and seizures. Over time, the disease destroys the entire body, rendering a child “blind, bedridden, and demented.”
The symptoms were hauntingly familiar to the Chappells. And now they were faced with an incredibly difficult decision: either tube-feed their children or watch them die.
But the terrifying news continued to plague the grieving family. Celeste, who was pregnant with her son Samuel, would learn that he, too, would be diagnosed with the fatal disease.
Thus began the painstaking task of two parents planning to bury four of their children before their very eyes. They tried their best to stay positive, even jokingly calling their three children “our three blind mice.”Screenshot/Wheeler Mortuary
The Washington Post put it simply:
“Les and Celeste watched them decline, grieving each loss as it came — seeing, walking, talking, eating, and then living.”
Eventually, the Chappells decided to give Elizabeth and James feeding tubes. When it was Christopher’s turn, the parents decided it was best to not intervene. To them, it made the most sense to stop Elizabeth and James’s treatment at the same time so all of their children could leave this world together.
One weekend in July, the Chappells decided to remove two of their children from life support and watch all three die in the company of loving friends and family in their Springville, Utah, home.
And one by one, each child began to slip away. The obituary notice simply read:
Surrounded by family, Christopher Lamont Chappell, age 20, passed away Sunday July 16, 2017. He was born December 13, 1996. Elizabeth Anne Chappell, age 19, passed away Friday July 14, 2017. She was born June 21, 1998. James William Chappell, age 15, passed away Saturday July 15, 2017. He was born October 20, 2001.
The children were lowered into neighboring plots, where a space now awaits baby Samuel.