PAIR CHARGED WITH ABUSE DENIED BAIL
The Miami Herald
A Florida couple accused of starving and beating five of their adopted children were denied bail Sunday at their initial court appearance on aggravated child abuse charges.
John and Linda Dollar were extradited from southeastern Utah and arrived at the Citrus County Jail on Saturday night. They were handcuffed in jail uniforms Sunday and did not speak in the courtroom, which is part of the jail.
The couple's attorney, Charles Vaughn, told the judge that the Dollars were unaware of the charges against them while they were in Utah and were returning to Florida when they were caught Feb. 4. Authorities used the Dollars' cellphone records to track them down in Utah.
But prosecutor Ric Buxman argued they were still a flight risk and urged Judge Mark Yerman to keep them jailed. The judge agreed and denied bail at the end of the four-minute hearing. More charges are pending against the couple.
Vaughn has said the couple will defend themselves against the charges and intend to tell their side of the story.
``They're taking the case very seriously. They're tired and they're fighting off a cold,'' Vaughn said after meeting privately with his clients later Sunday. He refused to discuss details of the case.
The adopted children who were allegedly abused painted a horrific picture for investigators, claiming they were starved, shocked with a cattle prod, beaten with a hammer and had toenails yanked out with pliers. Their emaciated bodies were compared by police to victims of Nazi concentration camps.
The couple fled Citrus County in Central Florida ahead of a hearing with the Department of Children & Families, which put the children, ages 12 to 17, in foster care after the allegations surfaced on Jan. 21, when the Dollars' 16-year-old son - weighing less than 60 pounds - was taken to the hospital with a head wound and red marks on his neck.
Since the allegations first came to light, investigators have found a cattle prod, a pair of pliers and what appear to be toenails in the home, which they say corroborate what the children told detectives.