, Newburyport, MA

November 30, 2012

Child abuse suspects due in court today

Extradition process could take weeks

By John Toole
staff writer

---- — PLAISTOW — Roland Dow and Jessica Linscott will return to New Hampshire. The question is when.

The child abuse suspects, captured in an Orlando theme park after a two-week manhunt, are set to appear in a Florida courtroom today.

Rockingham County Attorney Jim Reams, speaking to reporters yesterday outside the Pliastow police station, said the couple could return within a week to face child-abuse related charges.

Should they fight extradition, it could take as long as 45 days.

“Bail should not be granted in this particular case,” Reams said.

Dow, 27, is accused of burning and beating Linscott’s 3-year-old son, James. Linscott, 23, faces child endangerment charges.

The couple made stops in New York and New Jersey before authorities caught up to them at a parade at Universal Studios Wednesday.

They had received tips from acquaintances and others that led them first to the hotel where the two stayed, then to the theme park.

“They didn’t resist. They didn’t have any weapons,” New Hampshire Deputy U.S. Marshal Jeffrey White said. “I don’t think they believed anyone would come looking for them in Florida.”

Investigators are unsure what they used for transportation.

“I think they were smart enough to dump their cellphones,” White said.

He stressed tips from acquaintances helped.

“At one point in time, they were still in contact with family members,” White said.

Police will continue to investigate whether the couple had help fleeing. If they did, anyone who helped will face charges.

“We’ll see what the evidence shows us,” Reams said.

Investigators received hundreds of tips about the couple’s whereabouts, some from as far away as the Midwest.

They credited work of agencies, including the Plaistow police, U.S. Marshals Service, the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Department and law enforcement in Massachusetts.

“It was not just a local effort,” Plaistow police Chief Stephen Savage said.

They thanked the public and the press for their roles in helping to locate the fugitives.

“We knew our chances of getting them were very high,” Reams said.

Reams wasn’t surprised they were caught, only by where. “It seemed incongruous they would end up there,” he said.

“We’re kind of glad and happy to be at this juncture,” Savage said.

He praised the “exemplary work” of Plaistow Detective George Wickson, who was bound for Florida to bring the couple back, Sgt. Glen Miller and Master Patrol Officer Patrick Schiavone.

Savage expressed gratitude for the many tips, saying they were a tremendous help.

Reams said the family court and child welfare authorities will determine what happens with the injured boy, who had burns, head and brain injuries.

He remains at Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth in Lebanon.

“I’ve heard his vision has been restored,” Savage said, though he did not know to what extent.

Officials said the boy’s father is deceased. His grandmother said he died from a drug overdose.

Savage said the case, maybe because it is coinciding with the holidays, has resonated with many people.

“My administrative staff has been besieged with gifts for the boy,” Savage said. “Toys, jammies, useful things.”

Asked to describe the quantity, he replied with a smile, “growing.”

Officials have been exploring the possibility of setting up a fund to help the boy, he said.

Dow faces charges of first- and second-degree assault for allegedly burning the little boy’s wrist and fingers, and striking him in the head, causing a serious brain injury and seizures. Each of the two charges is punishable by 10 to 30 years in state prison, Reams said. He also will be charged with five counts of endangering the welfare of a child for failing to seek medical care for the child.

Linscott faces six child endangerment charges for failing to protect her son. Each of those charges is punishable by up to a year in jail.

Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.