3-year-old was abused for more than a month, officials say

Roland H. Dow III and Jessica M. Linscot were arraigned separately via video conference from the Rockingham County jail.
Roland H. Dow III and Jessica M. Linscot were arraigned separately via video conference from the Rockingham County jail.

PLAISTOW, N.H. — The most traumatic blows were delivered last month, according to a prosecutor.

But violence may have been a part of 3-year-old James Nicholson’s life for much longer than that.

The unsettling revelation emerged as inves­tigators delve deeper into the actions of the boy’s mother, Jessica M. Linscott, and her boyfriend, Roland H. Dow III, in the time leading up to Nov. 14, when the couple from this border town brought a severely bruised James to a hospital, saying the ­injuries were self-inflicted.


“Right now, the charges before the court are within a limited span of time,” said ­Michael J. Zaino, assistant Rockingham County attorney, at the couple’s arraignment Monday. “We’re learning other troubling signs of abuse that took place.”

Get Fast Forward in your inbox:
Forget yesterday's news. Get what you need today in this early-morning email.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

He did not go into details of what investigators have discovered, but the prosecutor said the couple could face more charges.

“There’s a very strong chance that there will be more charges forthcoming when this matter is brought to the grand jury for a broader time period than is currently ­expressed in those charges,” Zaino said.

The prosecutor also revealed that the inves­tigation into Dow and Linscott has led officials to videos that depict James appearing to administer his own injuries. Zaino did not indicate the source of the video.

Hospital physicians reviewed the videos.


“The hospital staff had a chance to evaluate those videos and found those to be completely inconsistent with these injuries,” ­Zaino said. “It’s clear that he already has these injuries at the time these videos are being taken.”

The boy arrived at Exeter Hospital with many injuries: brain swelling, burned fingers, and a body covered in bruises, one nearly as large as his torso.

Zaino told Plaistow District Court Judge Sharon N. DeVries the injuries were delivered by Dow.

Linscott, 23, and Dow, 27, were arraigned separately via video conference from Rockingham County jail, where they have been held since being escorted from Orlando. They were captured Wednesday by US marshals at Universal Studios theme park while watching a parade after a nationwide manhunt that began Nov. 16.

“The trauma that James had suffered, the multiple beatings that he received, bruises all over his body, dangerous swelling of the brain causing multiple other symptoms, clearly he has been put in harm’s way,” Zaino said.


Doctors at two hospitals ­examined the child, and both concluded the injuries were so severe they could not have been self-inflicted, Zaino said.

Neither Linscott nor Dow showed emotion as they listened to DeVries list the charges or as Zaino detailed the injuries to the boy, now in the custody of the state Division of Children, Youth, and Families. No updates were given on his condition.

Linscott faces six misdemeanor counts of child endangerment for failing to seek medical care for her son from Nov. 12-14, while he was suffering from seizures and other symptoms following a head injury. If convicted on all counts, she would face a maximum of six years in jail.

Dow faces felony counts of first- and second-degree assault for “striking [James] in the head causing a traumatic brain injury,” and for “burning [the boy’s] wrist and fingers.” Dow also faces five misdemeanor counts of child endangerment, each carrying a maximum one-year jail sentence. If convicted of assault, Dow would face time in state prison, DeVries told him.

“One of the bruises seems to stretch from his rib cage to the middle of his back, all the way across and around his rib cage,” Zaino said.

The couple dropped James off at Exeter Hospital on Nov. 14. Two days later, they were ­informed that arrest warrants had been issued against them and that they faced criminal charges, Zaino said.

When informed on Nov. 16 of his warrant by a Plaistow ­police detective, Dow, according to Zaino, reportedly said: “I’m not turning myself in. I’m going to remain until the weekend. You’ll see me on Monday.”

Instead, Dow picked up ­Linscott and they made their way to Haverhill and then to Boston, where they took a bus to New York. From there, they boarded a train to Florida, ­Zaino said.

“This took place while knowing there was an arrest warrant,” the prosecutor said, “while [James] was sitting in a hospital, [not knowing] whether he was going to survive or not.”

DeVries set bail on Linscott at $100,000 and at $500,000 for Dow. She ordered them not to have contact with each other or James.

Linscott, with dark circles under her eyes and her long hair loose, asked for a court-
appointed attorney.

“I’m not going to be able to make that bail,” Linscott said. “And there’s a protection order on my son right now, so I can’t see him anyways.”

Dow, gaunt and with dark circles under his eyes, hired his own lawyer, Lawrence Vogelman, who told the court Dow would not be able to make bail.

Linscott is scheduled back in court Dec. 20 for a pretrial hearing. Dow is scheduled to return for a probable cause hearing Monday.

Dow and Linscott have had run-ins with the law, but neither has a history of convictions. Two years ago, according to the judge, charges against Linscott were set aside because she agreed to seek help with ­anger management.

Katheleen Conti can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKConti.