Date: 1993-07-28


July 28, 1993
Janice Haidet
Dayton Daily News

Who was responsible for the care of the disabled, physically handicapped children in a Cedarville home where three died of unexplained causes?

That's one of the major issues officials were trying to resolve Tuesday during the first day of a Greene County coroner's inquest. The county's first in a decade, the inquest is expected to last three to four days. "I still don't know who was responsible for care," Coroner Manoj Desai said after hearing at least six hours' worth of testimony - some of which became heated.

Kathleen Carroll, mother of 10 adopted children, said, "There are no slaves in my family. My children all work together as a family unit."

All but three of the Carroll children had physical handicaps; five died during a nine-month span between last September and this June.

The inquest is aimed at learning more about three of those deaths: Josiah Carroll, 12, who died June 14; and Noah Carroll and Mollie Carroll, both 3-year-olds who died at the Carroll home at 3315 Straley Road last fall.

County Prosecutor William F. Schenck asked Mrs. Carroll how many children she and her husband, Timothy, who walks with two canes, could reasonably care for. She responded: "As many as the Lord brings."

If that's so, Schenck said, why do medical records show about 30 canceled appointments within the past two years? He produced letters from doctors and therapists stating concerns about the cancellations, and noted the children showed a lack of progress.

Mrs. Carroll blurted out, "I'm not Superwoman!" and Schenck responded, "That's just my point, Mrs. Carroll."

Schenck has said he is concerned that supervision from the older children without handicaps was too often substituted for supervision from the parents - and he wonders whether that was a factor in some of the deaths.

Testimony revealed that Mrs. Carroll was not at home when Mollie and Josiah died, and she also was gone at the time that Hannah, 6, was exposed to household bleach, which later killed the little girl. Hannah's death is not a subject of the inquest because the Carrolls in January pleaded guilty to a neglect charge in that case.

Mrs. Carroll's absence left her husband and James Carroll, 17, in charge of watching the children at those times, but Timothy Carroll said, "I don't think that had any bearing on (the deaths) at all."

Anne Marie Carroll, 19, who was removed from the home and placed in custody of the Ohio Department of Youth Services because she tried to burn down the family's last residence in Madison Twp., said she was given so much responsibility that she often felt as though she were the mother.

That, she said, is what drove her to the breaking point two years ago. "I was tired of being there and taking care of all those handicapped kids," she said. Anne Marie appeared stoic during most of her testimony, which spanned more than an hour. But when she gave that statement, tears streamed down her face and her voice faltered.

James, who is her biological brother and was also adopted by the Carrolls, told a story that conflicted somewhat with those told by other family members.

James denied that he was told what tasks to do, saying he volunteered. But Mrs. Carroll said all the children were assigned duties from a rotating list of responsibilities.

James said he only sometimes helped with siblings' care; Anne Marie said she and James were frequently left alone in charge of the children and were, in fact, doing most of the work.

A younger sibling, Hosea, 10, said he aided in care and also said his older brother couldn't do certain things because he was "busy" helping care for the children.

Paramedics, doctors, sheriff's deputies and child welfare witnesses were expected to begin testifying today.


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