PLAISTOW, N.H. — Three-year-old James Nicholson was recovering Wednesday at Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth, seeking to regain sight and brain function that authorities say he lost in a gruesome beating at the hands of his mother’s boyfriend earlier this month, shortly before the couple went on the lam.
Also on Wednesday, after a massive hunt, drawing on hundreds of tips and a web of law enforcement in multiple states, Orlando police arrested the couple amid the pageantry of the Universal Studios theme park, authorities announced Thursday.
Using cautious language, prosecutors at a press conference Thursday offered few details about the arrests, citing an ongoing investigation. But they allowed that the end-site of the couple’s journey was “incongruous.”
“I’m a little surprised we found them at a theme park,” said Rockingham County Attorney James Reams.
With public outcry mounting over the case, among the worst child abuse cases authorities said they had seen, law enforcement by the dozens sought Roland Dow, 27, and Jessica Linscott, 23, as they made their way to Florida, with stops in New York and Atlantic City, authorities said. They were taken into custody after a tip put the couple in Orlando, said Deputy US Marshal Jeffrey White from the agency’s New Hampshire office.
Dow and Linscott face charges in the beating of the boy, which was so severe — he was left with burns on his hands and fingers and traumatic brain injury — that Plaistow police said doctors feared the child suffered cognitive damage and eyesight loss.
Dow is charged with first-degree and second-degree assault. He and Linscott face multiple charges of child endangerment for failing to seek medical attention for her son.
Plaistow Police Chief Stephen Savage said the boy’s vision had been restored, though he could not confirm if it was partially or fully returned.
But concerns about his health continue, according to his paternal grandmother, Helen Nicholson who has said her son — the boy’s father — is deceased.
“I’m just glad they caught him,’’ Nicholson said Thursday, alluding to Dow, who authorities have alleged delivered the most serious physical blows to the child.
Local authorities offered few new details about the alleged crimes as well as the couple’s capture, and Orlando police did not return a call seeking comment.
Dow and Linscott are being held in Orange County Jail and are expected to appear Friday in a Florida court, where they will decide whether to return to New Hampshire immediately or force state officials to formally identify them as the suspects police have sought for the past two weeks, officials said.
Reams said they could be back in New Hampshire within a week if they waive extradition.
White said investigators now believe the couple quickly fled New England because of the widespread publicity.
White said marshals went to the Universal Studios Wednesday night where the couple was spotted walking away from a parade. They were arrested without incident, he said.Brian R. Ballou contributed to this report. Sarah Schweitzer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. John R. Ellement can be reached email@example.com.