November 28. 2012 11:23PM

It may take a week or more for mother, boyfriend wanted for beating of toddler to return to NH

Union Leader Correspondent

Jessica Linscott and Roland Dow were arrested in Florida on Wednesday evening. 
PLAISTOW - A Plaistow couple remains behind bars in a Florida jail while the little boy they’re accused of leaving at a hospital with burns and a traumatic brain injury and later running off to a popular theme park continues on a long road to recovery.

Jessica Linscott, 23, and Roland Dow, 27, will make their first appearance in an Orlando, Fla., courthouse Friday morning on fugitive charges after U.S. Marshals, acting on a tip, nabbed the two while they were enjoying themselves at Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla., Wednesday night.

Rockingham County Attorney James Reams said he wasn’t surprised that the couple fled to Florida, but he was in a state of “disbelief” when he learned that they were found moments after watching a parade inside the theme park.

The two were captured two weeks after Plaistow police issued warrants for their arrests in a high-profile child abuse case that struck a nerve with law enforcement officers and members of the public, who generated more than 100 tips from as far away as North Dakota during the search for Linscott and Dow, her boyfriend.

“There is nothing worse than a defenseless child being abused,” U.S. Marshal David L. Cargill Jr. said at a joint news conference outside the Plaistow Police Department Thursday afternoon.

Authorities said it may take a week or longer before the pair is returned to New Hampshire to face numerous charges stemming from the alleged abuse suffered by Linscott’s 3-year-old son, James Nicholson.

Dow is charged with one count each of first- and second-degree assault for allegedly striking James in the head, causing a traumatic brain injury that nearly blinded him, and burning his wrist and fingers. Dow and Linscott also face several counts of endangering the welfare of a child for allegedly failing to seek medical treatment for James when he suffered seizures and other symptoms related to the head injury on several occasions.

The investigation into the alleged abuse began after the couple brought James to Exeter Hospital on Nov. 14. Workers immediately notified police after they became suspicious of his injuries, which were so severe that he was rushed to Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth in Lebanon where he underwent two brain surgeries and remains in serious condition, Reams said Thursday.

Plaistow police have seen an outpouring of community support for the young boy, who is now in the custody of the state’s Division of Children, Youth and Families.

Police Chief Stephen Savage said people have been dropping off toys and other items for the child. He said police will make sure any gifts left for the boy at the station will be given to him.

At Thursday’s news conference, Savage took a moment to reflect on James and the life-threatening injuries he suffered.

“He’s the only hero here,” said Savage, who encouraged parents to give their kids “hugs and kisses.”

“It’s a special time of year for them.”

Previous story follows:

A Plaistow mother and her boyfriend wanted in connection with the beating of her 3-year-old son were arrested Wednesday night after they finished watching a parade at Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla.

After two weeks on the run, federal authorities caught up with Jessica M. Linscott, 23, and Roland H. Dow III, 27, after receiving tips that the two were in the Orlando area.

They were found at the popular theme park around 6 p.m. after members of the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force began hunting for them. They were arrested without incident.

Dow and Linscott are being held on fugitive-from-justice charges at the Orange County, Fla., jail. Scheduled to be arraigned this morning, they will decide whether to voluntarily return to New Hampshire to face multiple charges related to a severe head injury and burns suffered by Linscott's son, James Nicholson.

"I find it very sad that these two were located in an area designed to bring joy and happiness to children. I want to thank the public for their assistance in providing the tips which led to this arrest," U.S. Marshal David L. Cargill Jr. said in a statement.

The arrests followed numerous sightings of the couple in Massachusetts over the past several days. Investigators said they believe the pair may have been getting help from others in the effort to evade police.

Arrest warrants were issued Nov. 15 after Plaistow police launched an investigation into the boy's injuries, which Linscott had claimed were self-inflicted.

Linscott and Dow brought James to Exeter Hospital on the night of Nov. 14 for treatment. James suffered a traumatic brain injury and was found with bruises - both new and old - over much of his body and burns on his wrist and fingers, police said.

Dow faces first- and second-degree assault charges for allegedly striking James in the head and burning him.

He and Linscott also face multiple counts of endangering the welfare of a child for allegedly failing to seek medical attention for James when he suffered seizures and other symptoms related to the head injury.

James, who is now in the custody of the state's Division of Children Youth and Families, has been hospitalized at Children's Hospital at Dartmouth, but his family says his condition is improving following surgery.

"We really appreciate all the public's help and the law enforcement help. We had law enforcement from all over New England and the Eastern Seaboard involved in the search," Rockingham County Attorney James Reams said.

Cargill said law enforcement from New England and other states spent "countless hours" searching for Dow and Linscott.

"Due to the vast amount of media attention this case has received, public outrage quickly ensued. This was a major force multiplier that resulted in a sometimes overwhelming number of tips," he said.