EXPERTS CAST DOUBT ON CARROLLS' STORY
July 29, 1993
Dayton Daily News
Three dead Carroll children could have been smothered - and it's doubtful that another dead child was capable of injuring herself with household bleach as previously claimed, testimony at a Greene County coroner's inquest revealed Wednesday.
Further, the family, which already had 10 adopted children and was getting $10,000 a month in subsidies at one point, tried to get five more children in what officials called a possible "money-making scheme." Originally aimed at learning more about the deaths of two 3-year-olds, Mollie and Noah, and Josiah, 12, the inquest has been expanded to include the first in the series of deaths in Cedarville's Carroll family.
"It's part of the total picture," said Greene County Prosecutor William F. Schenck.
The inquest, which began Tuesday, is expected to conclude by Friday.
Photographs of the first deceased child, 6-year-old Hannah, appeared to disturb the family's pediatrician, Dr. Craig Horn. His brow furrowed and he spoke in choppy sentences when viewing the photos of bright red marks covering much of Hannah's body.
The photographs and Horn's testimony conflict with family members' statements.
Family members said Hannah spilled bleach on herself but showed no ill effects until she died three days later; her burns appeared to be "healing nicely" - a description given under oath by both the adoptive mother, Kathleen Carroll, and her son, James, 17.
"That's either outright ignorance or outright perjury," Schenck said.
Horn acknowledged that, given that the burns covered a large part of Hannah's body, including her back, chest, buttocks, genitals and left eye, she would have been in considerable pain.
Mrs. Carroll previously suggested that resuscitation efforts worsened the burns' appearance.
However, Cedarville paramedic Mark Thordsen, the first paramedic who arrived at the home the day Hannah died, said he found her lying nude on the floor "with burns or skin deformity very, very apparent."
Family members said Hannah was injured after she apparently climbed up to a shelf, which is five feet, five inches from the floor, got a bottle of bleach, unscrewed the top and poured the liquid on herself.
Others testified that's unlikely, particularly because Hannah had Down syndrome, which typically impairs precise hand movements, and because Hannah had three webbed fingers on her left hand and was legally blind.
The parents, Kathleen and Timothy Carroll, in January pleaded guilty to contributing to the neglect of a child, admitting they should have sought medical care for the burns.
The next two deaths could have been caused by suffocation, even though there were no conclusive signs, said forensic pathologist Dr. David M. Smith of the Montgomery County coroner's office. Particularly in children, the elderly, handicapped or others incapable of struggling, "suffocation can leave no marks at all," he explained.
The most recent death shows the most evidence of smothering, officials said.
Josiah, 12, who died June 14, suffered from cerebral palsy, a type of brain damage that causes physical impairment or paralysis. In his case, it caused both legs to be permanently bent, drawn somewhat up toward his chest.
That would make it highly improbable for Josiah to sleep on his stomach - the position in which he was found at the time of his death, officials said.
Further, photographs show Josiah suffered bruising inside his lips and pinpoint bleeding on his left eyelid - injuries "very suggestive" of external pressure caused by smothering, according to a report from Dayton forensic pathologist Gordon K. Murphy.
Meanwhile, finances became an issue in the inquest because Mrs. Carroll complained some of the children lack adequate medical coverage and equipment.
Neither parent is employed; Schenck said be believes the family's sole income sources are Social Security for Carroll's disability and subsidies for the children.
Those known sources, however, once totaled $10,000 a month. As the children died, that amount probably has dropped to an average of about $4,000 monthly, assistant prosecutor Suzanne Schmidt said.
The Carrolls' attorney, John H. Rion of Dayton, said it's ridiculous to insinuate that his clients were money-motivated. "They get about $2.25 an hour for their work with these young people. . . . They could get minimum-wage jobs and earn twice that amount." Rion said that calculation was based on a 24-hour workday.
A loan application and other records from two Dayton-area banks show that the Carrolls deposited $31,269 in a savings account last summer; other records show the family maintains two homes, one at 4844 Wolf Creek Pike in Madison Twp., the other at 3315 Straley Road in Cedarville, a home valued at $128,000, where they moved last July.
With all these financial circumstances in mind, Schenck asked a Montgomery County Children Services employee whether the Carrolls were adopting disabled children to get the subsidies that come along with them.
"It's a possibility," said Dale Richardson, an adoption home finder for the agency.