Pair Accused of Child Torture Arrested in Utah
A Florida couple accused of torturing and starving five of their seven children were captured Friday night in Utah, a spokeswoman for the Citrus County, Florida, Sheriff’s Office said. Linda Dollar, 51, and John Dollar, 58, were picked up in Utah, said spokeswoman Ronda Hemminger-Evan, but she had no details on their capture.
The Dollars were legal guardians of seven children, said Gail Tierney, another spokeswoman for the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office. Commenting on the case, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said the Dollars had adopted the children. Tierney said two other children were said to be favorites of the couple and were spared abuse.
The case came to authorities’ attention two weeks ago when paramedics responding to a 911 call from the home in Beverly Hills transported a 16-year-old boy to a hospital in nearby Crystal River, Tierney said The boy was bleeding from a laceration on his head and had red marks on his neck. He weighed 59 pounds, she said. “That was just the start of the alarming parts of this case,” she said in a telephone interview. Tierney said investigators believe John Dollar grabbed the boy by his neck, raising him off his feet and then dropped him. The boy struck his head on a fireplace, causing the laceration to his head, she said.
Authorities went to the home in Beverly Hills, about 85 miles north of Tampa, and interviewed the other children, including twin 14-year-old boys who were so malnourished they weighed 36 and 38 pounds apiece, Tierney said. “To look at the photos I saw, it was just extremely unnerving,” she said. “They looked like pictures from Auschwitz.”
The Dollars are accused of forcing the five children — who range in age from 12 to 16 — to sleep in a closet in the master bedroom with a “wind chime affixed to the door so that the Dollars would know if they tried to get out of the closet,” Tierney said. In addition, they are accused of using a cattle prod or some sort of stun gun to shock the children, securing them to spots in the house with chains, striking their feet with hammers and pulling the children’s toenails out with pliers. “There was evidence of damage or missing toenails of these children,” Tierney said. She said there is no evidence of sexual abuse. Tierney said it also appeared that the Dollars tried to keep the children inside the home as much as possible and that each one was home-schooled.
Authorities removed all seven children from the home January 27 and placed them in the custody of the Florida Department of Children and Families. The Dollars were to appear in court for a hearing Monday but never showed up. Don Thomas, a Department of Children and Families administrator, called the allegations “revolting and disgusting” and said his agency will “do everything we can” to assist in finding the couple. Bush said the department did its job properly. “It’s just tragic that parents — in this case, adoptive parents; these are parents that received these kids under adoption in the early 1990s — would do what they did,” he said. “I hope they find them, and I hope they put them away for a long, long time. It’s disgusting.”
Thomas said the department acted as quickly as possible to remove the children from the home.
Bizarre. The juxtaposition of their accused deeds and the file photos is rather disturbing.