Date: 1993-10-09


October 9, 1993
Janice Haidet
Dayton Daily News
A Preble County judge has been asked to do a "balancing test" - and weigh the interests of justice against the moral issues raised by the proposed exhumations of two Carroll family children.

After a court hearing Friday, Common Pleas Judge David Abruzzo said he expects to decide early next week whether Greene County authorities will be allowed to disinter the Cedarville family's children from their Preble County graves. The sole witness who testified at the hearing was Greene County Coroner Manoj Desai.

Most of the questions put to him by the Carroll family's attorneys centered on whether the autopsies of Mollie, 3, and Josiah, 12, were improperly handled.

Desai said they weren't, but after four children in the same family died under suspicious circumstances, it became clear - in hindsight - that more detailed examination was needed.

The autopsies were performed by the Montgomery County coroner's office, where about eight other Miami Valley counties also get their autopsies done.

Greene County Prosecutor William F. Schenck said, "The issue as to whether the initial autopsies were quote, 'bungled,' really is not relevant." What is relevant, he said, is the balancing test Abruzzo should do to determine whether the exhumations are justified, given all the circumstances.

John H. Rion and Dennis Gump, lawyers for the Carroll family, which saw five of its adopted handicapped children die within nine months, objected to the exhumations on moral grounds.

They said authorities had ample opportunity to gather evidence - and they don't understand what new information could be found now. "To bring in the power equipment and disrupt the sanctity of the (funeral) proceedings goes against the teachings of all mankind," Rion said.

Schenck said three nationally acclaimed experts have recommended the exhumations. The experts say they want to do highly specialized tests - involving sensitive lighting and photography - that Greene County authorities only recently learned were available.

One of those experts, Dr. Michael H. West of Hattiesburg, Miss., is a dentist who's spent 16 years working with agencies ranging from the FBI to Scotland Yard.

In a deposition given for Abruzzo's consideration, West states, "I have been able to retrieve valuable information, physical evidence on bodies buried up to 14 months. . . . You may find very limited information, you may find very valuable information on an exhumation. If you do not exhume them, you will find zero evidence."

Mollie died Dec. 9 and has been buried for about 10 months but West said, "we stand a very good possibility" of finding new physical evidence from her body.

Josiah died June 14; his body showed evidence of smothering on earlier examination, West said, but further tests might still shed more light on what happened to the boy.

No one has been charged in either death, but officials have said they are considering charges against the oldest child living in the Carroll home, James, 17.

James already faces a charge in connection with the death of Hannah, 6, who died Sept. 21, 1992, after a third of her body was burned with bleach while James was babysitting her. The parents, Kathleen and Timothy Carroll, each were convicted of two counts of child neglect in that case.


*The latest: Preble County Common Pleas Judge David Abruzzo expects to decide next week whether Greene County authorities will be allowed to disinter two Carroll family children from their graves.

*Why: Authorities are seeking permission to do more specialized tests to further determine how the children died.


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