Date: 1993-06-23


June 23, 1993
Janice Haidet
Dayton Daily News (OH)
An attorney's intervention into the probe of the June 14 death of Josiah Carroll is being questioned by Greene County authorities as they prepare for a coroner's inquest into the deaths of Josiah and two siblings.

Josiah, 12, died at the home of his adoptive parents, Timothy and Kathleen Carroll. He was the fifth adopted Carroll child to die in the past nine months. Records show the Carrolls' lawyer, John H. Rion, told sheriff's deputies to leave the home after Josiah's death - and, upon Rion's advice, the family moved evidence from the bedroom where the child died.

Further, on Friday, four days after the death, Greene County Children Services caseworkers "were angrily confronted by Mrs. Carroll" and, as a consequence, were unable to adequately interview the remaining children, assistant Greene County prosecutor Suzanne Schmidt said.

Despite those concerns, Rion contends that the family has been as cooperative as possible. He said his actions after Josiah's death were meant to protect the privacy of a grieving family.

The coroner's inquest is set for June 30 to get information on Josiah's death, as well as the deaths of two other youngsters who died late last year, Noah and Mollie, both age 3.

Other Greene County officials, however, say they've had no problems with the family's cooperation following the deaths.

"I've gotten to know the Carroll family over the past six months. . . . I have very positive feelings about the family," said Judge Robert A. Hagler of Greene County Juvenile Court. "It's been an absolute nightmare for everyone . . . but the family has been cooperative, as far as I can see."

Greene County Prosecutor William F. Schenck, who is recommending that Coroner Manoj Desai conduct the inquest in an open hearing because of intense public interest in the deaths, said he also has had no difficulties in dealing with Rion and the Carrolls.

But sheriff's deputies and others tell a different story.

They say the family has been reluctant to answer questions, particularly after Josiah's death.

In the cases of Noah and Josiah, reports indicate that Rion advised family members not to answer questions without him present.

On the night of Josiah's death, Timothy Carroll telephoned Rion, who then asked to speak with deputies.

"Mr. Rion . . . told me and everyone else to leave the house as we did not have a legal right to be there," said a report filed by Deputy R.P. Shafer.

"I don't think that's an unreasonable request," Rion said. "I was asking that they surrender the privacy of the home to the family that had just lost their child. This wasn't a police matter. It was a medical problem."

Sheriff Jerry Erwin said, "There's certainly no attorney in the world that can tell you you have to leave the premises when you have circumstances like these. . . . It has been difficult, to say the least."

Deputies told Rion they were not going to leave until coroner's investigator Charlie Bruce finished his work at the scene; sheriff's deputies assisted in taking photographs and doing other work, reports say.

"I wasn't about to order them to get out of that house. This was an active investigation into a death," said sheriff's Inspector William Harden, their commanding officer. "We had a right to be there. We were called there. The family called 911; they let us in the front door."

Rion, however, said, "There was no criminal investigation. Their son had just passed away and the police were hanging around. . . . They weren't doing anything but sitting at the kitchen table."

Harden said investigators are frustrated by the lack of evidence they've been able to gather in the case.

Realizing that bed sheets and clothing from Josiah's bedroom may be needed as evidence, Harden sent deputies back to the scene to retrieve the items. The family, who'd been notified by telephone that the deputies would be returning, placed the items in a black trash bag.

The Carrolls met the deputies on the front porch and gave them the bag, saying Rion had advised them to do so, records show.

"Other than the pictures we took, how do I know that was the evidence, since they moved it?" Harden said.

Harden said investigators are disturbed by the unanswered questions surrounding the case.

"We're just trying to find out what happened," he said. "I think that's what the inquest will allow us to do."

Rion, meanwhile, said he and his clients welcome the inquest, adding, "If there's more that the Carrolls could do to cooperate, somebody needs to tell me."


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