The sister of an eight-year-old girl who died after allegedly being denied medical treatment says her family is in a religious group that believes "God heals".
Twelve people have faced court in Queensland charged with the murder of Elizabeth Struhs west of Brisbane six months ago.
The girl died at the family home in Toowoomba on January 7 after her parents and the 12 people allegedly withheld her diabetes medication for six days.
Instead they prayed next to her and opted not to alert authorities as the girl's health deteriorated, police say.
Her body was found in the Rangeville home on January 8.
Elizabeth's parents Kerrie Elizabeth Struhs, 46, and Jason Richard Struhs, 50, have already been charged with murder, torture and failing to provide the necessities of life.
The other 12 people - seven women and five men aged 19 to 65 - appeared via video link on murder charges in Toowoomba Magistrates Court on Wednesday.
The girl's sister Jayde Struhs said her family was in a religious group that "didn't go to doctors".
"The belief is that God heals," the 24-year-old told Seven Network's Sunrise on Wednesday.
"And it was a huge part of us growing up. We didn't go to doctors, we didn't get any help outside of our group.
"It was quite a closed ... controlled group. It was very fear driven. You definitely didn't put your foot out of line."
Ms Struhs said she grew up in the group's "very sheltered environment" but left at 16 when she discovered she was a lesbian "which was a major conflict within the group".
She described Elizabeth as a "beautiful little girl" and "really cheeky".
The 12 people who faced court via video link from the Toowoomba Watchhouse will remain in custody until their next appearance from August 31.
Their names are Loretta Mary Stevens, 65, Brendan Luke Stevens, 60, Therese Maria Stevens, 35, Lachlan Stuart Schoenfisch, 32, Andrea Louise Stevens, 32, Acacia Naree Stevens, 29, Camellia Stevens, 26, Alexander Francis Stevens, 24, Samantha Emily Crouch, 24, Sebastian James Stevens, 21, Keita Courtney Martin, 20 and Zachary Alan Struhs, 19.
Besides murder, Brendan Luke Stevens has also been charged with failing to provide the necessities of life.
Detective Acting Superintendent Garry Watts said their six-month investigation into Elizabeth's death had taken a toll.
"An eight-year-old child dying, in the way we allege she did, is very dramatic for all involved," he told Nine's Today program on Wednesday.
He said Elizabeth's parents and the other 12 people were members of a religious group, comprising three families.
"They had had, I would suggest, some differing views in relation to quite a number of things, and that's probably best where I will leave it," he said.
However, Ms Struhs described the group as a "cult".
"I made the decision to run away from home and leave my family behind due to the fear-driven and controlling beliefs the cult my parents are a part of," she wrote on her GoFundMe page.
Ms Struhs said she did not find out about Elizabeth's death until January 11.
She vowed to take care of five siblings aged three to 16 and has set up the GoFundMe page.
More than $18,000 had been raised by Wednesday afternoon.
"I will dedicate all money raised to providing the ongoing care for my five youngest family members to ensure they are welcomed into a safe, secure and loving home," Ms Struhs wrote.
Australian Associated Press
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