Date: 1993-08-01


August 1, 1993
Janice Haidet
Dayton Daily News

Four days before her 18th birthday, Anne Marie Carroll set fires at her family's Madison Twp. home.

She said it was her way of calling attention to problems in the home full of physically, mentally and emotionally disabled children adopted by Kathleen and Timothy Carroll. Finally, a year and four suspicious deaths later, those problems - and the flaws in the systems involving them - have come painfully to light.

"I'm amazed and disturbed with all the problems with adoption procedures, home schooling, child safety and other things we learned," said Greene County Coroner Manoj Desai. "It's sad."

Desai's three-day inquest last week sought more information on the deaths of Hannah, Noah, Mollie and Josiah - but it also turned up unsettling facts about their lives. The inquest, which the family members didn't attend except on the day they testified, recessed Thursday and may resume this week.

The Carrolls' attorneys, Dennis Gump and John H. Rion of Dayton, called the inquest one-sided and unfair and said it resulted in misleading information.

However, testimony given under oath revealed:

The Carrolls went looking for at least seven more children by circulating a confidential memo favoring themselves. They already had eight adopted children.

Montgomery County Children Services Board was concerned about the adoptions but couldn't stop them.

The two oldest children at times acted as parents for their siblings - four of whom needed to be diapered, fed and dressed.

The family appeared surprisingly calm about most of the deaths - and three of the bodies felt cold by the time paramedics arrived.

The family, which pays on two homes, got up to $10,000 in monthly subsidies for the adoptees, yet didn't spend money on some of the equipment, education and other services the children needed.

Greene County Children Services repeatedly tried to get the children removed from the home - but failed.

"Now that we've had the inquest, I'm even more concerned about the safety of the remaining children," said Mary Ann Paloncy, executive director of Greene County Children Services Board. "The inquest brought out even more about the inability of these people to care for this many challenged children."

Rion disputed that and said many of the issues raised at the inquest had nothing to do with a medical inquiry into what caused the children's deaths.

Desai and Prosecutor William F. Schenck say they probed all aspects of the children's lives to understand circumstances that may have contributed to their deaths.

Investigators already had unearthed much of the information presented at the inquest, but Schenck said it was necessary to get information that was denied to investigators when the family was uncooperative - a charge Rion disputed.
Confidential memo sent
Among the information made public was that Mrs. Carroll, 32, somehow obtained a confidential memo of a home study by Montgomery County Children Services - and then mailed it to agencies throughout the nation in an attempt to get at least seven more children.

The Carrolls said it's God's will for them to minister to adopted children. Mr. Carroll, 38, is a paraplegic and said he cannot father.

Dale Richardson, an adoption home finder for Montgomery County Children Services, said he made no unannounced visits to the home because he thought it would be more courteous since "they appeared to have a lot to do." His agency wanted to stop two of the adoptions because the Carrolls "were on the verge of being overwhelmed."

Richardson learned the Carrolls sent the memo to at least two places in Ohio and to five other states, as far away as New Mexico, in attempts to get other children.

In northeastern Ohio, Cuyahoga County Children Services Board was "very insistent" that the Carrolls be allowed to adopt Hannah - who was the first child to die.

In central Ohio, a private agency, Adoption by Gentle Care, agreed to accept $6,000 from the Carrolls for adoption of infant Chloe.

"I don't know if we could've stopped it," Richardson said.

Born with a brain stem but no brain, Chloe died after being returned to the agency's custody. Of five Carroll deaths between September and June, Chloe's death is the only one not considered suspicious.

The deaths began less than a year after Anne Marie set the fires and was removed from the house.
Life called oppressive
The arson could have served as a signal that things may have been amiss in the Carroll household - and had someone investigated thoroughly and intervened in the family, perhaps some of the deaths could have been prevented, Paloncy said.

Mrs. Carroll said Anne Marie wanted to kill them. Police reports showed Anne Marie alerted her family to the fires; no one was injured, but a barn was destroyed.

Anne Marie said at the inquest that she led an oppressive life at 4844 Wolf Creek Pike. She'd awaken at 5 a.m., shower, and then basically spend the rest of the day doing chores and caring for her adoptive siblings - dressing and undressing, diapering and feeding them.

Because the family believes in Christian education, the children are being home-schooled. Mrs. Carroll said that happened daily. Anne Marie, who is now 19 and awaiting her high school equivalency certificate, said it was "once in a while."

Anne Marie said she and James, 17, her biological brother who also was adopted by the Carrolls, did the most child-rearing work. She also said the bulk of the responsibilities would have shifted to James after she was removed from the home.

James denies that.

Yet when Hannah, 6, was burned with bleach, it was James who was in charge, and with each of the three deaths that followed, it was James who checked on the children and found them dead.
'I didn't kill them'
James acknowledged at the inquest that some people consider him a suspect in the deaths. He said it makes him mad because "I love them very much. I didn't kill them."

About Hannah, who had Down syndrome and died from bleach burns, he used the same words as his mother to describe the burns: They were a little pink. They were healing nicely.

But asked whether he wanted to see the photographs of Hannah - which depict large areas of red, raw, bleeding flesh - James said, "No, thanks."

The next death in the home was that of Noah, a 3-year-old crack baby who suffered from seizures, on Nov. 15. When paramedics got there, they said the body seemed cold.

So did the next two bodies.

Three-year-old Mollie, who suffered from a rare genetic disorder causing mental retardation and severe allergies, was found dead Dec. 9.

After a custody dispute that took the children out of the home for a brief time, all was relatively quiet until June 14, when Josiah's body was found. It, too, felt cold - and showed signs "very suggestive" of smothering, according to a Dayton pathologist whose report was read at the inquest.

Estimating how long a person has been dead is complicated and inexact, but the three bodies were cold enough to raise officials' doubts about the family's stories surrounding the deaths.

Cedarville emergency crews said they were surprised at the family's demeanor during the 911 calls to their address.

About Hannah's death, paramedic Mark Thordsen testified, "It was, to me, unusual, that they weren't more frantic."

Mr. Carroll performed CPR on Hannah, and, "As casual as he seemed to be about it, I thought he was a passerby," Thordsen said.

When Josiah died, Cedarville fire Chief Scott Baldwin learned where the patient was when James gave "kind of a nonchalant point to the back of the house," Baldwin testified.

Professionals who worked with the family observed things that troubled them, too.
Help was available
Diana Holderman of the Rehabilitation Center of St. Elizabeth Medical Center said she recently learned that the Carrolls received a subsidy from Massachusetts that would have covered a bill for $3,763, but they paid $400.

Holderman said she also talked at length with Mrs. Carroll about resources the family could use - help with home schooling, cleaning, cooking, baby-sitting, grocery shopping and specialized at-home therapy for the disabled youngsters - but Mrs. Carroll "was resistant to any involvement from outside agencies," Holderman said.

Mrs. Carroll had said she had difficulty getting the kind of help the family needed; she also said she is skilled in assisting her children with therapy.

Diana Dynes, a speech science pathologist at St. E, said she talked to Mrs. Carroll about purchasing used equipment that would allow her two mute sons to communicate and gave Mrs. Carroll two application forms to apply for grants through a charitable foundation. To her knowledge, the applications haven't been filled out or returned. Without the equipment, the children are "not going to be able to develop intellectually," she said.

The Carrolls repeatedly missed therapy appointments, which further impeded the children's progress, the professionals said.

Aware of some of these concerns about the Carrolls, and having raised concerns of their own about the family, Greene County Children Services repeatedly tried to get custody of the children in the Carroll household.

Those requests were repeatedly denied. The agency got emergency custody after Mollie died, but the children were returned to the family in two weeks.

The case has gnawed at Paloncy, but she said she doesn't think her agency could have done anything else.

At a time Montgomery County Children Services is under fire for returning a child to a house where he later died, Paloncy has found it frustrating that her agency tried but failed to keep children out of the Carroll house.

The judge who made those decisions, Greene County Juvenile Court Judge Robert A. Hagler, has removed himself from the case as of Friday, citing what he called unfounded innuendos about his objectivity in the case.
Problems not ignored
Paloncy said she believes the public thinks her agency had something to do with the adoptions or ignored conditions at the Carroll home.

Not so, she said.

In fact, her agency had no contact with the Carrolls until Hannah's death set off alarms.

Montgomery County Children Services sent a letter simply stating that the family had moved to 3315 Straley Road in Cedarville, but the letter called for no action and hinted at no problems. It came four working days before Hannah died.

"The whole situation makes us very, very sad. . . . You know, when you choose to adopt children like this, you do everything you can to improve their quality of life, and some of those things appeared not to have been done," she said. "If they had, more people would've been involved with this family, more people would've seen it, and maybe we wouldn't have had this outcome."


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