Dollar Adoptees' Eldest Sibling Wants Custody

Date: 2005-02-15


The Tampa Tribune

INVERNESS — Torture suspects John and Linda Dollar will start their return to Florida from a Utah jail no later than Thursday and face additional charges as soon as they arrive, authorities said Monday.

The 2,200-mile journey could take several days because they are being transported by a private company that may need to pick up other prisoners along the way.

When she's booked into the county jail, Linda Dollar, 51, will face four more counts of aggravated child abuse-torture for a total of five, Citrus County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Gail Tierney said.

Her husband, John, 58, will face six counts of the same felony, the extra charge related to injuries that sent their 16-year-old adopted son to a hospital with head and neck injures and started the investigation that led to their arrests Feb. 4.

Also Monday, attorneys for the Dollars' 25-year-old daughter, Shanda Rae Shelton, of New Port Richey, added more detail to statements that she, too, had been abused before moving out of her parents' strictly religious household three years ago.

"The punishment her parents would dole out to her and her siblings was barbaric," said Inverness attorney William Grant. "Shanda was a victim, too. [She suffered] many of the humiliations of ... abuse."

Tierney said when Shelton was interviewed by sheriff's Detective Lisa A. Wall, she corroborated many of her siblings' stories of being beaten with hammers, shocked with cattle prods and having toenails yanked out with needle-nose pliers. The children also were locked in a closet and deprived of food and sleep, authorities said.

"After I left the home, Linda Dollar kept telling me that everything was fine, and the kids never told me what was occurring," Shelton said in a statement read by Grant, adding that she was barred from seeing her siblings.

Grant said the parents shared duties as family disciplinarian.

The Dollars could face additional charges in Hillsborough and Polk counties as well as Tennessee.

When he was hospitalized Jan. 21, the 16-year-old boy weighed 59 pounds. Twin 14-year-old boys weighed 36 and 38 pounds, and two girls — ages 12 and 13 — also were malnourished, Tierney said. Two other children, a 17-year-old girl and 14-year-old boy, apparently were not abused because they were in their parents' favor, authorities said.

Except for the twins, there is no blood relation among the children.

All of the children have been placed in Department of Children & Families foster homes.

"They appear to be eating very well now," Tierney said. "They're past the point of eating everything in sight."

Shelton is scheduled to appear in court today to ask a general magistrate to allow her to visit her siblings.

She also is expected to seek custody of at least some of them.

"I love my brothers and sisters dearly, and I miss them terribly," she said through her attorneys.

A fund called the Dollar Children Trust has been created through SunTrust to help the children.

Reporter Jim Tunstall can be reached at (352) 628-5558.


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