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Plaistow couple that were on the run, will appear in Florida court today

Union Leader Correspondent

November 29. 2012 11:04PM
Plaistow Police Chief Stephen Savage pauses for a moment to reflect on the struggles of 3-year-old James Nicholson during a news conference outside the Plaistow Police Department Thursday afternoon. (Jason Schreiber)

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 before running off to a popular theme park continues to recover.

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

Reams 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.

They have the option to waive extradition and voluntarily return to the New Hampshire or they could be formally extradited, Reams said. In either case, they wouldn't be back in New Hampshire until late next week, he said, adding that prosecutors will ask that the couple be held without bail because they're a flight risk.

Asked to comment on the couple's decision to flee, Reams said, "As the law says, it's evidence of guilt."

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.

Reams would not comment on many aspects of the investigation or the tip that led the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force to Universal Studios.

Authorities leading the massive search thanked the many law enforcement agencies that helped, and also the media and the public.

Investigators have said they thought the pair was getting help from people they knew while they hid from authorities. No additional arrests have been made, but, Reams warned, "If we have evidence that other people were involved they'll get charged."

Since the search began, Plaistow police have seen an outpouring of community support for little James, whose father died when he was 3 months old. The boy, who police said was also found with bruises on his body that were new and old, 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, a father of two children ages 6 and 9, who encouraged parents to give their kids "hugs and kisses."

"It's a special time of year for them."


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