EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 29, 2012

Editorial: Any who aided fugitives should face charges

The Eagle-Tribune

---- — It is difficult to imagine that the Plaistow couple who spent two weeks on the run from child abuse charges did so without help.

Police and prosecutors are looking into whether anyone may have helped Roland Dow, 27, and his live-in girlfriend Jessica Linscott, 23, elude police and flee to Florida. If they find that the pair did indeed have help, those who aided them should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

“Depending on where the evidence takes us, there could be some additional people charged,” Rockingham County Attorney James Reams told our reporters. “If anybody did assist them, we are going to look very hard at filing charges.”

The crimes of which Dow and Linscott are accused are particularly heinous and heartless.

Earlier this month, Exeter Hospital contacted police, saying a couple had dropped off a little boy with serious head injuries, massive bruises and burns. The couple told doctors the injuries were self-inflicted, but doctors concluded that was not true, police said. The 3-year-old boy is Linscott’s child by a previous relationship.

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.

Plaistow police had expected the couple to turn themselves in after they were identified as having dropped off the child. Instead, they went on the run and the resulting manhunt led to reports of possible sightings across the Merrimack Valley and the North Shore.

It turns out that Dow and Linscott had headed south. Published reports have them making stops in New York and Atlantic City before heading to Orlando, Fla.

The couple was arrested by U.S. Marshals at the Universal Studios theme park. They had just finished watching a parade.

The circumstances of their capture stunned many. It would have been one thing for Dow and Linscott to have been captured cowering in the home of a friend or family member. But no. They went to a theme park and, in effect, were having the time of their lives on vacation while Linscott’s son fought in a New Hampshire hospital to recover from the abuse they allegedly inflicted on him.

Depravity has just found a new base level.

There is a strong suspicion that Dow and Linscott did not have the money or other means to take off on such a jaunt on their own. Helping fugitives from justice elude capture is a crime. In this case, the crime was particularly heinous. Anyone found to have helped Dow and Linscott make their run to Florida should face criminal charges.

Dow and Linscott will have to answer for what they are accused of doing to a helpless child. Those who may have helped this couple avoid justice — at least for a time — must answer as well.