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Adoptive mother loses bail, begins serving 6-year term


Adoptive mother loses bail, begins serving 6-year term

June 23, 2006

Jan Hefler

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Jun. 23--A state Superior Court judge in Gloucester County yesterday revoked the bail of Heather G. Lindorff, who was convicted of child endangerment in the 2001 death of her 5-year-old adopted Russian son, Jacob. Lindorff, 41, of Alloways Creek, Salem County, was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs and ordered to begin her six-year state prison term.

She had been free while appealing her conviction, but Judge Walter L. Marshall Jr. ruled that she had violated the conditions of her $50,000 bail by having unsupervised contact with her four other adopted Russian children. Lindorff had adopted the children with her husband, James, 55. The prosecution contended at her 2003 trial that she had burned and beaten Jacob at the family's former home in Franklin Township and delivered the fatal blow in December 2001, less than two months after he was adopted.

After Lindorff was convicted, her mother became the children's court-ordered guardian, and Lindorff was prohibited from unsupervised visitation. According to testimony during the hearing to revoke bail, the children had spent time at Lindorff's farm and had been performing chores for her. That was "absolutely against the clear intent of the orders of the court," the judge said.

"We are pleased with the court's decision," Gloucester County Prosecutor Sean F. Dalton said. On May 20, the state Division of Youth and Family Services learned the children were living with the Lindorffs, court papers said. The children were returned to DYFS custody and examined by doctors. Son James was malnourished and taken to Cooper University Hospital in Camden.

"At age 12, he was merely 61 pounds," physician Marita Lind wrote in an evaluation addressed to Assistant Gloucester County Prosecutor Mary Pyffer. Examinations of Jamie, 15, Jackie, 14, and John, 10, "revealed continued abuse and neglect at the hands of Heather Lindorff," the report said. DYFS officials confirmed the unsupervised contact last week, according to a certification attached to the motion to revoke bail.

Contact staff writer Jan Hefler at 856-779-3224 or jhefler@phillynews.com.

2006 Jun 23