Dow's grandmother insists he'd 'never hurt a baby'
PLAISTOW - Helen Fram insists that her grandson, Roland Dow, never beat and burned his girlfriend's 3-year-old son.
"He would never ever hurt a baby," the 90-year-old woman said from the duplex where she lives on Main Street in Plaistow next to Dow and Jessica Linscott.
But authorities tell a different story, and next week the couple will likely appear in a Plaistow courtroom to answer charges of assault and neglect in a case of alleged child abuse that has sparked public outrage.
Dow, 27, and Linscott, 23, waived extradition in Florida Friday morning, clearing the way for local authorities to bring the fugitive couple back to New Hampshire.
Rockingham County Attorney James Reams said travel arrangements were being made Friday for their return.
Dow is charged with first- and second-degree assault for allegedly striking Linscott's son, James Nicholson, in the head on Nov. 1, causing a traumatic brain injury that led to seizures and other symptoms that police say went untreated two weeks later. Dow is also accused of burning the boy's wrist and fingers.
Dow faces five additional counts of endangering the welfare of a child while Linscott is charged with six counts of the same charge after they allegedly failed to seek medical treatment for the seizures on several occasions.
Fram defended her grandson even after he and Linscott eluded authorities for nearly two weeks and ended up at the Universal Studios theme park in Orlando, Fla., where they were arrested after watching a parade.
"They were afraid of getting caught, but being innocent, they figured they didn't do anything wrong," Fram said.
Details of the couple's whereabouts during the nationwide manhunt aren't known, but Fram said Dow called her once about a week after he disappeared with Linscott to tell her that he was OK. She said he also called his mother, Helen Nault of Newton, but she didn't ask where he was and neither did Fram.
"We didn't want to know where he was because we didn't want to get involved," she said.
She said Dow didn't sound scared on the phone.
Fram said she first thought someone was probably helping them while they were on the run, but now thinks they were on their own.
She's not sure how they made it to Florida.
"Who knows? They didn't even have a car to hide in," she said of the two, neither of whom is employed.
Authorities are investigating whether others may have helped Dow and Linscott while they were on the run. Reams has not ruled out the possibility that additional people could be charged.
Meanwhile, Fram is still trying to make sense of the charges filed after Dow and Linscott brought James to Exeter Hospital on the night of Nov. 14
"They thought he was having tantrums when he probably had the water on the brain, the seizures. Something was going on and they didn't know it," said Fram, who claims James was banging his head against the tub before he went to the hospital.
Because they had no vehicle, Fram said Dow's mother brought them to the hospital and that Dow and Linscott stayed at the hospital while he underwent an operation. She said Dow later borrowed his sister's car and drove to Children's Hospital at Dartmouth in Lebanon to be with Linscott and her son after he was transferred there because of the seriousness of his injuries. He was nearly blinded following the head injury, but police said he has regained most of his vision.
"When they came home from the hospital they saw all the police cars over here. They were in his house, so he decided not to go in. They were scared, but they were innocent, so they just took off," Fram said.
Police met up with Linscott at the hospital, and when Dow learned that Plaistow police wanted to speak with him, police said he told them that he would stop by the station on Nov. 19, but he never showed up.
While Fram claims Dow never abused James, the little boy's grandmother, Helen Nicholson of Melrose, Mass., expressed concern about Dow. She has claimed that James told her how Dow hit him in the head and spanked him.
Dow also has a 5-year-old daughter who lives with a former girlfriend.
"She cries because she can't see him now because he's not around. She loves him," Fram said.
With James still recovering in the hospital, some people have begun dropping off toys and other gifts for the young boy at the Plaistow Police Department.
Police Chief Stephen Savage said anyone who wants to give to James can leave unwrapped gifts at the station and police will find a way to get them to him before Christmas.