Wishes for comfort and joy for injured Plaistow boy
Among the gifts is a teddy bear from the U.S. Marshals Florida Regional Task Force. (JASON SCHREIBER/Union Leader Correspondent)
Dozens of donated gifts to be delivered to James Nicholson have been placed around a Christmas tree at the Plaistow Police Department. (JASON SCHREIBER/Union Leader Correspondent)
PLAISTOW - A colorful poster with hearts designed by children in Seabrook hangs from a large bin filled with stuffed animals.
The poster signed by the kids and their families carries the message, "James, we are sending you prayers for healing, love and peace."
Another message of support is found on a card held by a teddy bear wearing a winter hat with a patch from the Orlando, Fla., Police Department on the front.
"James, wishing you a speedy recovery," is the message on the card signed by officers with the U.S. Marshals Florida Regional Task Force.
Plaistow Police Chief Stephen Savage calls 3-year-old James Nicholson a "poster child."
"There are a lot of things wrong with us, family values, a whole lot of things," he said, "but this part of it also represents the humanity in all of us."
Savage and others in the police department have been overwhelmed by the generosity shown by so many who have dropped off gifts for little James in the days since he was hospitalized Nov. 14 with a severe head injury and burns in a case of alleged child abuse.
While allegations of child abuse aren't uncommon, this case shocked police and the public when the boy's mother, Jessica Linscott, 23, fled with her boyfriend, Roland Dow, 27, while James remained hospitalized with critical injuries.
Authorities said the two took off after learning that police planned to arrest them, and after nearly two weeks on the run, they were tracked down by U.S. Marshals at the Universal Studios theme park in Orlando on Nov. 28.
Dow faces assault charges for allegedly hitting James in the head with enough force to case a traumatic brain injury and burning his wrist and fingers.
He and Linscott are also charged with endangering the welfare of a child after they allegedly failed to seek medical care for James at various times when he began having seizures and other symptoms related to the head injury.
Both are being held at the Rockingham County jail awaiting probable cause hearings Monday and Dec. 20.
Linscott has claimed that James injured himself - a claim doctors have refuted - while Dow maintains his innocence.
As prosecutors build their case, police are hoping to bring some smiles to James when the donated presents are delivered in time for Christmas.
Savage said people can continue to drop off presents for James for at least the next week or so. They'll eventually be given to him at his grandmother's house, which is where he's living after being released from the hospital.
In addition to the gifts from individuals, students at Londonderry and Portsmouth high schools are also working on plans to donate, Savage said.
A box of toys collected by public works employees in Somerville, Mass., was also delivered.
"There are probably so many things out there going on that even I don't know about," Savage said.
Police are also working to establish a trust fund or a fund at a bank to assist the boy.
"There's no question in my mind that the family . in this particular case deeply appreciates that. It's a special time of the year. This is a perfect time to be doing something like this for the boy," he said.
Savage said his goal is to keep the environment for James as normal as possible and free from stress and reminders.
Delivering gifts to help him during the Christmas season is "worth its weight in gold" from a healing point of view, Savage said.
"I think there is a resonance here that kind of struck everybody and the mere fact that he was only 3 years old presented some compelling issues for people to accept and understand. None of us understand it," he said.
Savage recalled one woman who was in tears when she delivered a toy to the police station and then returned a few hours later - still crying - with more toys.
"This is the good part of the job, having this kind of response from people. It's really a great thing," he said.
Anyone with questions about the gift donations should call the Plaistow Police Department, 382-1200.
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Jason Schreiber may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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