exposing the dark side of adoption
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October 21, 1993

Janice Haidet

Dayton Daily News


The bodies of two exhumed Cedarville children "appear to be in adequate condition" to allow experts to perform tests that could help determine whether the children were smothered, Greene County Prosecutor William F. Schenck said Wednesday.

While family members and the general public often consider exhumations controversial, death investigators say they have found the rarely used procedures to be valuable - particularly as forensic science becomes more advanced. Officials who carried out the exhumations of Mollie Carroll, 3, and Josiah Carroll, 12, in Preble County on Monday, said they hope further examination will yield more clues about how the children died.

Smothering became strongly suspected only after Josiah died in June. The previous deaths of four children in the Cedarville family of 10 adopted children had been blamed on natural causes or neglect, but a coroner's inquest this summer caused authorities to take a second look at all of the deaths.

Two men who are described as being among the nation's foremost authorities in their field - Dr. Michael West of Hattiesburg, Miss., and Dr. George Nichols, chief medical examiner for Kentucky - are expected to begin a battery of tests on the bodies Friday, Schenck said.

The tests will include use of special lighting and photography that could show whether the children's faces were pressed into their mattresses and also could determine how one of Josiah's bottom front teeth became loose.

Both children were found dead in bed by James Carroll, 17, who is awaiting a Nov. 1 trial on charges that he purposely burned Hannah, 6, with household bleach, causing her to die three days later.

San Francisco Chief Medical Examiner Boyd Stephens, who also serves as vice president of the St. Louis-based National Association of Medical Examiners, said he knows both West and Nichols.

Both men are eminently qualified, he said. But the work they're about to do is complicated. "The bottom line is that suffocations in children can be very difficult to prove," Stephens said.

The smallest children, particularly under the age of 5, can be easily overwhelmed, leaving behind few marks. "The more struggle, the more marks," he said.

Hence, in the case of Josiah, that could explain why marks inside his mouth were obvious during the original autopsy done at the Montgomery County coroner's office, but might have been overlooked or not present at all in the case of Mollie, who was much younger and much smaller, Stephens said.

Lawyers for the adoptive parents, Kathleen and Timothy Carroll, argued against the exhumations.


LOCAL, NOTABLE EXHUMATIONS ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

*Greene County, 1977: Records show relatives of the Rev. Ray Clark failed to tell investigators that he collapsed in the shower. As a result of the exhumation, the cause of his death was changed from natural to accidental drowning.

*Preble County: About 10 years ago, authorities exhumed a man who perished in a Darke County fire; residue of an accelerant was found, leading authorities to conclude that the man was set on fire. Criminal charges followed, recalls Coroner Timothy H. Miller.

*Notable exhumations elsewhere:

*1901: President Abraham Lincoln's body was exhumed for the fourth time to confirm that the remains were his.

*1981: A body thought to be that of Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele was exhumed in Brazil and confirmed as his.

*1991: Historians determined that U.S. President Zachary Taylor died from natural causes, debunking the theory that he may have been poisoned for political reasons.


SOURCE: Local officials, Dayton Daily News research

1993 Oct 21