GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Family members of a Grand Rapids teen who starved to death in the Atlanta area over the weekend are concerned that the teachings of a Georgia cardiologist may have played a role in her mother's decision to starve her to death.
Markea Blakely-Berry died at her home in Cobb County, Georgia over the weekend. Investigators have arrested her mother Ebony Berry, 38, and charged her with murder.
On Berry's Facebook page, her family noticed a connection with Andrew Chung, a licensed Georgia cardiologist who encourages hunger and minimal eating.
They also noticed that on Facebook, Berry and Chung -- both of whom had more than 5,000 friends -- had many friends in common.
Chung authored and self-published a book called "Be Hungry" in 2007 and says he believes that hunger is "wonderful." He discourages people from eating more than 32 ounces of food each day.
Reached by phone, Chung admitted to 24 Hour News 8 that he knows Ebony Berry but insists that he did not encourage her to starve her child.
"If her daughter -- if she did this -- then she did in fact break away from what she learned," he said. "I haven't interacted with her since sharing with her that being hungry is wonderful and convincing her to say it, too."
Chung's listed office location is shut down and appears to practice from his home, an Atlanta reporter confirmed.
Chung said he encourages hunger, but not starvation.
"I am surprised. I am shocked. I didn't even know she had a daughter," Chung said of Berry.
He also seemed to defend Berry's potential rationale for starving her daughter to death and said that the child's mental disabilities may have been part of the reason.
"When a parent chooses to neglect a child ... you have to think about what the reasons were," he said. "It's expensive to care for that child."
"A parent could reasonably decide that to care for that child would require harming the other two children," he added.
Berry's family said they've alerted authorities in Georgia about Chung's possible connection to the case.
Georgia investigators would not comment on whether or not Chung is a part of their investigation.
Berry's family admits that Chung may be just one of many factors in their daughter's alleged decision.
They also put some of the blame on the State of Michigan and Child Protective Services.
Markea's maternal grandfather says the family has always been concerned about Ebony's children -- a concern they voiced to state investigators.
24 Hour News 8 has learned that more than a half-dozen complaints were fielded by CPS between 1999-2004. Only once were claims actually substantiated.
Chung, who said he's been in practice since Sept. 11, 2001, said he doesn't feel bad about what happened to Markea.
"I don't know the daughter to feel one way or the other," he said.
He also said he doesn't share in concerns that Markea suffered for months before her death.
"We suffer more looking at them then actually they are suffering," he said. "They're not even suffering from the starvation."
Kent County leaders told 24 Hour News 8 they weren't surprised by Gary Rolls Jr.'s resignation from the Kent County Commission Thursday, but those that would comment were happy with the decision.
Michigan lawmakers passed a flurry of bills on the last day of voting in 2013.
Grand Rapids has fully recovered from the recession, according to research done by the W.E. Upjohn Institute.