The parents of severely deformed Siamese twins who allegedly asked the family doctor to starve them to death have been charged with attempted murder.

The family physician and friend was also charged with attempted murder.

The family physician and friend was also charged with attempted murder.

The twin boys, who share a body from the waist down, were born May 5 to Dr. Robert Mueller, a Danville, Ill., physician, and his wife, Pamela, a part-time nurse. According to testimony by hospital nurses, the Muellers and their physician, Dr. Petra Warren, had ordered that the twins be given no food, water or medical attention. One nurse testified that when the babies were fed, they were given only a pacifier with sugar water to stop their crying.

Yesterday, in what may prove to be an important enthanasia case, the Muellers and Warren were indicted on charges of attempted murder and child neglect, and the Muellers additionally were charged with conspiracy to commit murder and solicitation to commit murder.

Vermillion County State's Attorney Edward Litak, in a crowded press conference in the courthouse in Danville, said, in announcing the indictment, that he felt sorry for the parents and the physician. But Litak said he also felt sorry for the children.

"One could easily imagine the pain of the parents and the shock," he said later, in a telephone conversation. "One could also understand how the physician felt, having more than a passing acquaintance, I understand, with the parents . . . but you also have to feel sorry for the children, hearing the nurses' statements: how they cried in pain because they were hungry; how the cries dwindled down to whimpers as they were starved to death, how the skin started to wrinkle. . . .

"These were two infant human beings, that feel things just like any other human does. . . ."

The parents, who were denied custody of the twins in a juvenile court proceeding last week, were not in Danville when the indictment was announced. They were in Chicago, visiting the boys in Children's Memorial Hospital, where they have been since Tuesday, according to their attorney.

The attorney, James Borbely, declined to comment on their response. "It's too private," he said. Mrs. Mueller, reached at home later in the day, also declined to speak.

Mrs. Mueller, 31, gave birth in Danville's Lakeview Medical Center. The birth had been difficult, according to a nurse in the delivery room, and when the twins were born, they were not breathing. The attending physician -- who was no Dr. Warren -- gave orders not to resuscitate, and Dr. Mueller, at his wife's side, seemed to concur in those orders with a gesture. However, the twins started to breathe on their own.

Later, according to Lakeview staff, Dr. Warren gave orders that the children not be fed "at the parent's request."

The story became public eight days after the birth, when the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services received an anonymous tip that Siamese twins had been born and were being starved to death. The state stepped in, took custody, and in a Family Court proceeding last week the state was awarded temporary custody pending another hearing next month. The parents, who had wept throughout the three-day court hearing, were awarded unlimited visitation rights.

The judge in that case, John P. Meyer, said that tests -- currently under way at Children's Memorial -- might ultimately show that little could be done to help the children, but that, in the meantime, they had the right to whatever expertise was available -- care their parents and physician had denied them.

"The juvenile court does not make philosophical judgments," he said. ". . . the juvenile court must follow the Constitution of Illinois and the United States, each of which contains a Bill of Rights. These bills of rights give even to newborn Siamese twins with severe abnormalities the inalienable right to life."