By Mark E. Vogler
---- — The nationwide manhunt for a Plaistow couple sought on child abuse charges for the beating and burning of a three-year-old boy ended in Orlando, Fla., yesterday when U.S. Marshals captured them in a theme park that caters to kids.
But Rockingham County Attorney James Reams hinted last night that police may soon be in pursuit of any family members and friends who helped fugitives Roland Dow, 27, and his live-in girlfriend Jessica Linscott, 23 – the boy’s mother – elude police and flee to Florida.
“Depending on where the evidence takes us, there could be some additional people charged,” Reams said in an inteview last night. “If anybody did assist them, we are going to look very hard at filing charges.”
Reams declined comment on whether investigators have evidence that family members and friends assisted the couple during their time on the run. Plaistow police have complained previously about a lack of cooperation from both families in their investigation and the manhunt.
The couple have been on the run since Nov. 13 when arrest warrants were issued for them in connection with their alleged involvement in the abuse of Linscott’s son.
That’s after Plaistow police received a call from Exeter Hospital, saying a little boy was dropped off with serious head injuries, massive bruises and burns. The couple told doctors the injuries were self-inflicted, but doctors concluded that was not true.
Reams said last week that Dow will be charged with first- and second-degree assault for allegedly burning the little boy’s wrist and fingers, and striking him in the head, causing a serious brain injury and seizures. Each of the two charges is punishable by 10 to 30 years in state prison, Reams said.
Dow also will be charged with five counts of endangering the welfare of a child for failing to seek medical care for the child. Linscott faces six child endangerment charges for failing to protect her son, who is in state custody and recovering from his injuries. Each of those charges is punishable by up to a year in jail.
The couple were expected to turn themselves in to authorities after Plaistow police identified the pair as those who dropped off the child at Exeter Hospital. But they fled, prompting a manhunt that has lasted more than a week and included possible sightings across the North Shore and the Merrimack Valley. Recently, the couple was alleged to have been spotted in Haverhill, Swampscott and Hampton, N.H.
They were arrested yesterday without a struggle after watching a parade at Universal Studios, according to Deputy Marshal Jeffrey White of the U.S. Marshal’s Office.
“We had developed information that they were going to be at Universal Studios,” White said in an interview.
“They had only been in Orlando a day or two. When we got the tip they were in the park, we were able to locate them. They had just finished watching a parade and were headed towards an attractions area,” he said.
Officials were shocked to find the couple hanging out at the theme park.
“I find it very sad that these two were located in an area designed to bring joy and happiness to children,” said U.S. Marshal David L. Cargill Jr. of the New Hampshire office.
Reams agreed that the location of the couple’s capture was indeed “ironic.”
“Running away to a place where families go on vacation ... the only thing that surprised me about this whole thing – where they were caught,” Reams said.
“I am sure the blogosphere will be talking about it. I am sure the comment section of The Eagle-Tribune will light up,” he said.
Linscott and Dow were being held last night at the Orange County Jail, pending their arraignment today on Fugitive from Justice charges in Florida. If they waive extradition proceedings, New Hampshire authorities will travel to Florida to pick them up and return them to face several child abuse and related charges.
Reams said he expects to be filing additional charges as the investigation continues.
“We are starting a review of the new evidence gathered in the last 10 days and I suspect there will be some additional charges,” Reams said.
He said he believes the couple will agree to waive extradition.
“I would expect they would want to come back and get closer to their families quicker,” he said.
Reams declined to discuss what role the families played if any throughout the investigation and whether they had contact with the couple.
Plaistow Lt. William Baldwin said in a previous interview that family members have not cooperated with police and added that “I absolutely believe they’re (the couple) getting help from someone.”
“Someone is helping them and hiding them. Someone has to be helping them out and moving them. Either that or they’ve just been staying in one place.”
It’s not clear whether Linscott and Dow drove all the way down to Florida or flew.
White said last night that investigators had not yet impounded a car that the couple used in their journey.
As news of the arrests spread yesterday, Sanborn Regional High School alumni on Facebook who knew the couple as schoolmates spread the word and talked about the arrests, often celebrating them.
Reporter Dustin Luca contributed to this report.