Revocation of bail is sought in death of adopted 5-year-old

Relates to:
Date: 2006-06-01

Revocation of bail is sought in death of adopted 5-year-old

June 1, 2006
Sam Wood
The Philadelphia Inquirer

Jun. 1--Gloucester County authorities moved yesterday to revoke the bail of Heather G. Lindorff, who is appealing her 2003 conviction in the death of her adopted 5-year-old son.

Officials last week accused Lindorff, 40, of continuing to abuse four other adopted children even though she had been stripped of custody and banned from visiting them without supervision.

Lindorff and her husband, James, 55, adopted six children from Russia.

In December 2001, the Lindorffs' son Jacob died of severe head injuries. The prosecution contended that Heather Lindorff had burned and beaten the boy at the family's Franklin Township home and delivered the fatal blow less than two months after his adoption.

Heather Lindorff was acquitted of a charge of aggravated manslaughter but was found guilty of endangering the welfare of a child and sentenced to a six-year prison term.

In May 2004, she was granted bail by the state Supreme Court, pending an appeal, and released after posting $50,000.

According to the terms of her release, Heather Lindorff's mother, Mildred Cullinan of Vineland, N.J., was to assume custody of the other children. Additionally, Heather Lindorff was not to visit the children without supervision.

Last year, the Lindorffs moved to Salem County.

On May 20, the state Division of Youth and Family Services learned that the children were living with the Lindorffs, court papers said.

The children were placed back in DYFS custody and examined by doctors.

James Lindorff was found to be malnourished and taken to Cooper University Hospital in Camden.

"At age 12, he was merely 61 pounds," physician Marita Lind wrote in an evaluation addressed to Assistant Prosecutor Mary Pyffer of the Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office.

Examinations of Jamie, 15; Jackie, 14; and John, 10, "revealed continued abuse and neglect at the hands of Heather Lindorff," the report said.

DYFS confirmed last week that Lindorff had had unsupervised contact with the children in violation of her bail agreement, according to a certification attached to the motion to revoke bail.

During a hearing yesterday, Pyffer asked Superior Court Judge Walter Marshall to immediately jail Heather Lindorff and impose the six-year sentence.

Marshall said Lindorff's lawyer, John P. Morris, had taken issue with the state's proof and discussed whether the court could rely on affidavits without live testimony.

"Proof involves testimony and the ability of the defense to cross-examine," Marshall said before setting another court date for Wednesday. Marshall ruled that, until then, Lindorff could not visit the children without a DYFS representative present. In addition, the children were barred from the Lindorffs' residence.

Contact staff writer Sam Wood at 856-779-3838 or samwood@phillynews.com.

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