Date: 1993-10-19
Source: newsbank.com


Edwina Blackwell Clark
October 19, 1993
Dayton Daily News
With the quiet hum of a backhoe providing the only sound, workers solemnly exhumed the bodies of Josiah and Mollie Carroll on Monday after a last-minute attempt to block the disinterment failed.

Within an hour of an appeals court ruling Monday lifting a temporary stay, officials from the Greene County coroner's and prosecutor's offices stood at the adjoining unmarked graves at Preble Memory Gardens. About four cemetery employees used shovels and a backhoe to lift the two caskets from their resting places. Mollie's white casket and Josiah's beige one were taken to the Montgomery County morgue.

This weekend, forensic specialists from Kentucky and Mississippi will re-examine the bodies to try to determine if Josiah, 12, and Mollie, 3, died from natural causes.

The two are among five disabled children adopted by Timothy and Kathleen Carroll who have died unexpectedly in the last year. Four of the deaths were considered suspicious. A ruling on the cause of death has not been made for Josiah Carroll, while the cause of Mollie's death was ruled undetermined by the Greene County coroner's office.

Neither the Carrolls, nor their two attorneys were present at the exhumation, and the attorneys could not be reached for comment.

The action, which took about an hour, capped a three-week legal fight between the Cedarville family and Greene County officials who asked that the bodies be re-examined after information uncovered at a coroner's inquest raised further questions about the children's deaths.

"Cases ruled undetermined are always considered open," said Bill McCarthy, chief investigator for the Greene County coroner's office. "This was a labored decision on everybody's part."

Mike Back, who attends church with the Carrolls at Ascension Life Center, rushed to the graves after hearing that the bodies were being exhumed. He said Monday was a tragic day and said the action was part of a "witch hunt."

"They've had these bodies for quite some time," he said. "You tell me the first time around no one ever thought to do any of this?"

In giving the go-ahead, Administrative Judge Richard Koehler of the 12th District Court of Appeals ruled there was "no basis upon which to conclude that the Preble County prosecutor or the trial court committed an abuse of discretion by ordering the disinterment at issue."

The examination of Josiah will center on a loose front tooth, McCarthy said. Dr. Michael West, a forensic dentist from Hattiesburg, Miss., will take new pictures of Josiah's mouth to see whether the loose tooth is evidence that Josiah may have been suffocated when something was pressed against his face.

"The tooth is loose and he feels he can tell how much pressure it took to dislodge it or if it became loose on its own," McCarthy said.

McCarthy said West and Dr. George Nichols, chief medical examiner for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, will also do a detailed oral exam on Mollie. Nichols is a forensic pathologist who has extensive experience in smothering cases.

The original autopsies were done by the Montgomery County coroner's office. The re-examination will occur Friday and Saturday, McCarthy said.

Workers dug about 20 inches before reaching the coffins near a cherry tree at the 34-acre cemetery.

Instead of sod, the disturbed graves are now covered with several sheets of plywood. "We tried to keep it as dignified as possible because it's such a sensitive situation," Appenzeller said.


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