exposing the dark side of adoption
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September 24, 1992

Janice Haidet and Julia Helgason

Dayton Daily News


A court allowed a Cedarville couple to keep seven of their adopted children after officials tried to remove them from the home where a 6-year-old girl died Monday after inhaling bleach.

Meanwhile, a former neighbor and the family's pediatrician said Wednesday they found it difficult to believe that Hannah Carroll's death could have been anything but accidental. "I know this family. There's no way I could ever conceive that they could abuse these children," Dr. Craig Horn of Kettering said of the parents, Timothy and Kathleen Carroll.

Greene County Juvenile Court Referee Robert Hutcheson on Wednesday gave the Greene County Children Services Board permission to enter the Carroll home whenever necessary to monitor their children's care, said Suzanne Schmidt, assistant county prosecutor.

Hutcheson also ordered psychological examinations of the Carrolls and their children and physical exams of the children.

Hutcheson ruled that Chloe Carroll, a 3-week-old girl born without a brain, be returned to Adoption by Gentle Care, a Columbus adoption agency, because it still has legal custody of her.

Chloe is the youngest of the nine adopted children of Timothy and Kathleen Carroll. All but one of the children, ranging in age from 3 weeks to 16 years, is mentally or physically handicapped.

A representative of the adoption agency, Stacy Tague, said the Carrolls were adopting Chloe. The agency wanted the child temporarily returned until an investigation into Hannah's death is complete, Tague said.

Greene County Children Services sought temporary custody of the other children until investigators finish their work.

Hannah, who had Down syndrome, died three days after her parents say she accidentally spilled chlorine bleach on herself.

Hannah sustained second-degree burns over most of the front of her torso and over part of the back. She also suffered from pneumonia in both lungs as a result of inhaling or ingesting the bleach, officials say.

Pneumonia probably caused her death, with trauma from the burns contributing to it, Coroner's Chief Investigator William McCarthy said.

The accident happened while Hannah was in the care of a 16-year-old sibling; the parents were at the hospital getting tests done on another child, said John H. Rion, the Carrolls' attorney.

Rion said there is no way the parents can be held responsible for the child getting into the bleach. He also said the Carrolls volunteered to allow Children Services into the home, 3315 Straley Road, to observe.

An investigation into any possible child abuse or neglect is continuing, Schmidt said.

Prosecutor William F. Schenck said if any evidence is found, a grand jury would decide, likely on Oct. 2, whether anyone would be indicted in Hannah's death.

"The big question in everybody's mind is: Why the delay? Why didn't they get medical care for this child sooner? If she had been treated, she'd be alive today," Schmidt said.

The Carrolls have declined to comment. Mrs. Carroll cried at the conclusion of the hearing, with friends comforting her by saying, "We'll get her (Chloe) back."

Rion repeatedly has said he is outraged that the family's grief is being interrupted by the investigation, which included a search of the home Tuesday. Officials confiscated bleach and other cleaning products as evidence.

Formerly of Massachusetts and Madison Twp., the family moved to Cedarville in July.

Elysee Zimmerman, a former neighbor in Madison Twp., knew the Carrolls only slightly but she said she would be shocked if there were any basis for accusations of child abuse or neglect against them.

"They were very attentive to those children," she said. "Their lives revolved around those children." Zimmerman said the children were always clean and appeared to be happy and well-cared-for.

The family lives on benefits, including disability payments to Timothy Carroll, who walks with the aid of two canes.

The Carrolls have obtained state approval to home-educate the children, imbuing them with Christian values, Rion said.

Horn said he's known the family since last October; they have strong religious beliefs but none that prevent them from seeking medical care.

1992 Sep 24