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Man, in-law indicted in witness plot


Randall Clark

The Gloucester County Times

SALEM - A Salem County Jail inmate and his mother-in-law have been indicted by a grand jury for allegedly hatching a murder-for-hire plot to kill a witness against him.

James Lindorff, 58, and Mildred Cullinan, 76, both of Elsinboro Township each were indicted on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder.

It is the latest charge in a saga surrounding the family that began with the violent death of James and Heather Lindorff's 5-year-old adopted son in December 2001, while they lived in Franklin Township.

The child was one of six adopted Russian children the couple had started to take in about a year before the death.

Cullinan and Lindorff were arrested last August, when Lindorff was about one month into a 364-day jail sentence at the Salem County Correctional Facility.

He was lodged there after pleading guilty to endangering the welfare of a child and contempt of a judicial order.

The witness' knowledge of the alleged abuse apparently played a pivotal role in his decision to plead guilty.

"It's a bizarre family and a bizarre history surrounding them, and these are serious first-degree charges levied against them," Salem County Prosecutor John T. Lenahan said previously.

According to Lenahan, the investigation of Cullinan and Lindorff began when police learned that, while in jail, he was actively soliciting the murder of the Salem County witness.

Cullinan met with an Atlantic County undercover detective posing as a would-be assassin at the King Chicken restaurant on Yorke Street in Salem City on Aug. 30. She was allegedly offering to pay approximately $5,000 for the murder and provide a handgun for the task.

"Through the diligence of our detectives and a few unique investigative tactics, tragedy was avoided in this case," Lenahan noted.

Lindorff and his wife, Heather - the daughter of Cullinan - are both serving prison sentences stemming from the death of Jacob Lindorff.

In 2000 the Lindorffs took custody of three girls. In 2001 they took in three boys, who ranged at the time from 5 to 16 in age.

Jacob Lindorff died on Dec. 31, 2001 from what medical examiners determined was blunt force trauma to the head, which police said was delivered by his mother. The boy also had second-degree burns on his feet and hemorr-haging in one eye.

Heather Lindorff is currently serving a six-year prison sentence for child endangerment at the Edna Mahon Correctional Facility for Women in Hunterdon County. As a result of the case, Lindorff was given probation after being convicted of child abuse.

After the 2003 conviction, custody of the children was handed over to Cullinan, with specific orders that visits by the Lindorffs had to be supervised and could not be overnight.

County investigators determined that the Lindorffs defied the order, and all three were charged with disobeying the judge's order. At that time, Heather Lindorff was released from jail while awaiting an appeal, though violating the judge's order sent her back.

In 2006 new charges of child neglect were lodged against the couple in Salem County, leading to Lindorff's eventual guilty plea. They allegedly failed to provide medical treatment and left malnourished at least one of the children, a boy who at 12 years old weighed just 61 pounds.

2008 Mar 28