Search continues for couple after boy was beaten
PLAISTOW - Helen Nicholson says she was worried about her 3-year-old grandson's safety long before his mother and her boyfriend took off after he was allegedly severely injured and burned.
"I'm just very, very happy that he's alive," Nicholson said Tuesday as the search for Jessica Linscott and Roland Dow expanded into Massachusetts.
Linscott, 23, and Dow, 27, both of 197 Main St. in Plaistow, remained on the run Tuesday night after police issued warrants for their arrest. The two are facing assault and child endangerment and neglect charges after Linscott's son, James Nicholson, suffered a severe head injury, a visual impairment, bruises over much of his body, and second- and third-degree burns, police said.
He remains hospitalized at Children's Hospital at Dartmouth in Lebanon, but Nicholson said he is now out of the intensive care unit and continues to improve.
"I talked to him and he said, 'Hi Nana. I love you Nana,'" she said.
Plaistow police began investigating the injuries after Linscott and Dow brought James to Exeter Hospital on Nov. 14. The hospital staff became concerned about the extent of the injuries and contacted police.
While she was interviewed by police after James was rushed to Children's Hospital at Dartmouth, Linscott wasn't immediately arrested as police were just beginning their investigation. While investigating the injuries, which police Lt. William Baldwin said appeared to have occurred over the course of two to three days, police obtained arrest warrants and searched the couple's Plaistow apartment.
Authorities from several agencies have been searching for the pair, but so far they haven't turned up. Police said they don't believe the couple has a car and that someone is likely helping them elude capture.
"I don't think they're going to find them," said Helen Nicholson, of Melrose, Mass.
Nicholson said her son, who passed away when James was just 3 months old, is the boy's father.
She said Linscott and Dow have been dating for about a year and that James was often left with her or Linscott's mother.
Nicholson said she became concerned about Dow after her grandson told her over the summer that he was "hitting him in the head and spanking him."
Nicholson said she told Linscott that there would be "an investigation" if she brought him back to their Plaistow apartment.
Nicholson described James as a fun-loving 3-year-old boy who's smart, loves to run around and play with his cars.
"He's a very typical happy-go-lucky child," she said. "He's just an awesome little boy."
The Rockingham County Attorney's Office has scheduled a press conference for today at noon to provide an update on the case.
"I can't comment on the evidence, but anytime a child is alleged to be a victim we all take it seriously," said Rockingham County Attorney James Reams.
He urged Linscott and Dow to surrender and asked the public to contact Plaistow police if they have information.
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Jason Schreiber may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.