PLAISTOW, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire authorities will know soon whether a fugitive couple charged in connection with the beating and burning of the woman’s 3-year-old son will waive extradition and voluntarily return the state.
Federal marshals took 23-year-old Jessica Linscott and her boyfriend, 27-year-old Roland Dow, into custody Wednesday evening at Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla. They had been on the run for two weeks, making stops in New York and New Jersey on their way south, U.S. Deputy Marshal Jeffrey White said.
The two are not expected to appear in the Orange County courtroom Friday morning for what Florida officials say is a routine proceeding involving paperwork, but they will be available if needed. Corrections officials say the couple has denied media requests for interviews.
Dow is charged with first- and second-degree assault. He and Linscott face multiple charges of child endangerment for failing to protect and get medical attention for James, who remains hospitalized at Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth in Lebanon.
Plaistow police say Dow stuck James in the head with enough force to cause traumatic brain injury and seizures and burnt the boy’s wrist and fingers.
A spokeswoman for the state Division of Children, Youth and Families, which has legal custody of the boy, would not comment on his condition Thursday, citing confidentiality laws. She also would not say whether the division had previous contact with the family. The boy’s father died of a drug overdose, Dow’s grandmother told The Associated Press.
Tips from acquaintances and others helped authorities track the couple to a Florida hotel and Universal studios.
White, the U.S. deputy marshal, said the couple seemed surprised when they were apprehended while watching a parade at the theme park.
“I don’t think they believed anyone would come looking for them in Florida,” White said. “They didn’t resist. They didn’t have any weapons.”
“It’s very upsetting to everyone involved,” White said. “They were hiding out in a place you’d normally take your kids for enjoyment, to have a good time. Here they are down there, on the run, after harming their child.”
White said he is not sure what mode of transportation they were using and that both their cars were accounted for in New Hampshire.
“I think they were smart enough to dump their cellphones,” White said.
“At one point in time they were still in contact with family members,” he said.
Rockingham County District Attorney Jim Reams said his deputies will be on hand for Friday’s proceeding. He said if the couple waives extradition, they should be back in New Hampshire and appear in court sometime next week. If they don’t waive extradition, Reams said, the process will be more time-consuming, with New Hampshire’s governor having to make a formal request of Florida’s governor to send the couple back to New Hampshire.
Police said Dow and Linscott told them by phone several weeks ago that the boy’s injuries were self-inflicted and that they would go to the police station later. They never showed up.
Police say the boy’s condition is improving but that his recovery will be long and difficult.
Law enforcement officials spent “countless hours” trying to find Linscott and Dow, who are from Plaistow, N.H., a town of about 8,000 residents in Rockingham County on the Massachusetts state line, marshals said.
Dow’s grandmother, Helen Fram, who lives next to the couple in a two-family home in Plaistow, said Thursday that she’s certain her grandson and Linscott did not hurt James. She said the boy sometimes banged his own head on the bathtub or threw himself off the toilet.
“I can hear anything if anything is going on,” she said. “They would never, ever hurt a baby. Never.”
She said they initially went to the hospital with James but got scared when they found out police wanted to talk to them.
“They figured they didn’t do anything, so they took off,” she said.
Fram described her grandson as a loner and said he sometimes did siding or roofing work, though he is unemployed right now. She said she did not hear from him while he was on the run.
Asked why they would have gone to a theme park, she said that was one thing she did not understand.
In the small downtown of Plaistow, Joe’s Barber Shop owner Dan Diemand said every third or fourth customer for the past week has wanted to talk about the case, wondering if Dow and Linscott had been caught. A lot were angry.
“Especially parents, I think they take it very personally when a child is hurt,” he said.
Tuohy reported from Concord, N.H.