exposing the dark side of adoption
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Witness: Siblings not abused


Mom charged in death of adopted son



A pediatrician testifying in the trial of a Franklin couple charged in the death of their adopted 5-year-old son said Friday that three other adopted children in the family showed no signs of abuse or neglect.

Dr. Marita Lind, on the staff of the state University of Medicine and Dentistry's center for child support, was the first witness called by the defense. Lind said she interviewed the three children after the death of Jacob Lindorff. The adopted Russian boy died of blunt trauma to the head, an autopsy found.

His mother, Heather Lindorff, 37, is charged with aggravated manslaughter, aggravated assault and child endangerment in the death of Jacob on Dec. 13, 2001. Her husband, James Lindorff, 54, is charged with child neglect.

The prosecution rested its case against the Lindorffs on Thursday after six days of testimony.

Lind said she evaluated three Lindorff children Dec. 18, 2001, at the request of the state Division of Youth and Family Services to determine whether they were at risk for abuse or other harm. They were among six Russian-born children the Lindorffs adopted.

"I did not find any signs of abuse or neglect physically in these children,' said Lind. She said she recommended counseling for the children about Jacob's death and dental treatment.

Lind said a 7-year-old brother of Jacob told her their biological mother in Russia hit his brother's head on the floor when he misbehaved.

The defense has argued that Jacob's initial head injury occurred in Russia and was aggravated by an accidental fall at the Lindorff home.

However, the prosecution's medical experts have testified both instances of bleeding on the brain happened while Jacob was living with the Lindorffs.

Another defense witness, Dr. Carl Shopfer, a family physician, testified Heather Lindorff telephoned him Dec. 14, 2001, for help with "some kind of peeling of skin' on Jacob Lindorff's feet.

Shopfer said he advised her to apply Neosporin, an over-the-counter ointment. The prosecution has presented testimony and photographs of second-degree burns on the boy's feet. Heather Lindorff told an investigator the burns were from bathtub water.

Superior Court Judge Julio Mendez is expected to rule Monday on whether the defense can present testimony from a counselor who interviewed the Lindorff children and a child abuse expert. Assistant Gloucester County Prosecutor Mary Pyffer on Friday objected to both witnesses.

Reach Bernie Weisenfeld at (856) 251-3345 or bweisenfeld@courier postonline.com

2003 Dec 13