BRENTWOOD, N.H. — Authorities vowed Wednesday to search around the world if necessary to bring to justice a Plaistow couple accused of physically abusing the woman’s 3-year-old son, leaving him with severe injuries.
The child’s grandmother said the boy’s condition has improved dramatically.
“He got out of intensive care last night, and the family said he’s doing good, much better,” Helen Nicholson, the child’s paternal grandmother, said in a telephone interview from her Melrose home. “His eyesight is back and his brain is recovering. So that’s the best news we can hope for.”
Plaistow police had expressed fear that the boy, James Nicholson, would lose his eyesight or suffer permanent cognitive damage as a result of the abuse. He remains at Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., listed in stable but serious condition, according to Rockingham County Attorney Jim Reams.
Authorities say Jessica Linscott, 23, and her boyfriend, Roland Dow, 27, dropped the child off at Exeter Hospital on Nov. 14. Medical staff quickly discovered signs that the boy had been abused and alerted Plaistow police. He was then transferred to the hospital in Lebanon.
Police launched an investigation and on Nov. 16, asked the couple to turn themselves in, but Linscott and Dow never showed up. In their absence, they were charged Monday with a total of 11 counts of endangerment.
On Wednesday, outside his office at Rockingham County Superior Court, Reams announced new charges against Dow of first- and second-degree assault.
On Nov. 1, according to authorities, Dow struck the boy on the head, causing traumatic brain injury, and burned the boy’s wrist and fingers.
Dow still faces five misdemeanor charges of endangerment for not seeking care for the child on Nov. 12 and 14 after he suffered seizures as the result of head injuries.
Linscott faces six misdemeanor counts of endangerment for not seeking care for her son after he suffered the seizures. Each of those counts carries a one-year sentence.
“No matter where they are running to, we will bring them back,’’ Reams told reporters. “If they get caught in California, they’re coming back. If they get caught in Britain, they are coming back. We will get them.’’
Reams said authorities believe the couple are still in southern New Hampshire or northern Massachusetts, and are using a car.
“I suspect we will have them soon, but let’s see,” he said, adding that leads are pouring in.
Police in Haverhill searched a building on Nichols Street Tuesday evening, acting on a tip that Linscott and Dow were seen in the area. They were not found.
Reams has a message for the couple: “Surrender yourself and let’s do this the easy way.’’
He said the abuse likely occurred over a period of 30 days. “We have a time frame when we know he was healthy and a time frame when he clearly isn’t,” he said.
Nicholson said she last saw her grandson the week before Halloween. She went to Plaistow and Linscott brought the boy outside. The toddler didn’t bear any visible injuries, but seemed scared, she said.
“He had on dark pants and a long-sleeve shirt, and he was hugging me, holding me tightly and telling me to stay, don’t leave him,” he said.
Nicholson’s son, Jonathan, was the boy’s father. He died of an accidental overdose when the child was 3 months old, she said.
“I just want to see him and let him know that everything will be OK, that they won’t ever hurt him again,” she said.