Couple Clear Way To Be Extradited On Abuse Charges

Date: 2005-02-08

The Tampa Tribune

INVERNESS — John and Linda Dollar, accused of torturing five of their adopted children with cattle prods, pliers, hammers and starvation, could be returned to face charges in Citrus County in seven to 10 days, officials said.

Citing security risks, sheriff's spokeswoman Gail Tierney said details of the couple's transfer from a rural Utah jail won't be released.

At a hearing Monday, the couple appeared in handcuffs and waist shackles to sign paperwork waiving their right to fight extradition. Florida authorities, who also moved Monday to revoke the couple's bail, now have 10 days to retrieve the Dollars and bring them back to Inverness, about 60 miles north of Tampa, to face charges.

Citrus County authorities began investigating John Dollar, 58, and his 51-year-old wife, Linda, after their teenage son was hospitalized on Jan. 21 with head and neck injuries.

The 16-year-old boy was severely malnourished. He weighed 59 pounds.

Twin siblings, age 14, weighed 36 and 38 pounds, respectively, and two others also were underweight.

Some of the children told investigators their parents pulled their toenails out with pliers, shocked them with prods, beat them with sticks, locked and chained them in closets, and forced them to live with little to eat.

The couple didn't show up for a Department of Children & Families custody hearing on Jan. 31.

That's when investigators, saying the children had injuries supporting their claims, issued warrants charging each of the Dollars with one felony count of aggravated child abuse involving all five children.

They said the abuse apparently has been going on for years, including time the couple lived in Tennessee and in Hillsborough County, where DCF said they were state-licensed foster parents from March to October 1995.

Tennessee Department of Children's Services officials said they had not investigated the Dollars while the couple lived in that state.

Two other youngsters who lived with them apparently were not abused because they were in their parents' favor, officials said.

Linda Dollar wrote in a 1995 DCF application that she left home at age 16 because of an alcoholic and abusive father. She also wrote that her first marriage ended because of abuse.

The family moved to Citrus County in August.

All seven children, who were home schooled by Linda Dollar, are in DCF custody.

A 20-year-old son no longer lives with the couple.

The Dollars were arrested near Monticello, Utah, a 2,000-resident town, Friday evening while driving their gold Lexus sport utility vehicle. That was more than 2,200 miles from where authorities found their motor home abandoned in Polk County.

Authorities here were able to alert San Juan County, Utah, officials that the couple were traveling in the area. That information came from tracing cell phone calls.

The Dollars were bound for Denver when authorities traced their calls.

"In Salt Lake City, they got a call from their attorney in Florida urging them to return home," San Juan County sheriff's Lt. Alan Freestone said.

John Dollar is a commercial real estate appraiser.

Information from The Associated Press and reporter Anthony McCartney was used in this report. Reporter Jim Tunstall can be reached at (352) 628-5558.


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