On September 21, 1992, six year old Hannah Carroll died of severe bleach burns, which covered one third of her body and were left untreated for three days. Hannah, who had Down syndrome, was one of ten special needs children adopted by Kathleen and Timothy Carroll, a fundamentalist Christian homeschooling couple. In the three months after Hannah’s death, three more of the Carrolls’ adopted children died. One month old Chloe died shortly after being returned by court order to the adoption agency that had preliminarily placed her with the Carrolls, and her death was not included in future investigations. The remaining deaths were those of three year old Noah, who suffered seizures, and three year old Mollie, who had mental retardation and severe allergies. When it appeared that Mollie had been dead for 12 hours before her death was reported, officials temporarily removed the remaining Carroll children from the home, returning them shortly before Christmas.
In January 1993 Kathleen and Timothy Carroll pleaded guilty to child neglect in relation to Hannah’s death. They were placed on probation and prohibited from adopting more children without court permission. In June 1993, there was a fifth death: twelve year old Josiah, who had cerebral palsy. The county had an inquest in July where inconsistencies emerged between experts’ testimony and family members’ stories. A judge recused himself amid concerns that he had grown too close to the case.
In August, the couple’s eldest biological son, James, then 17, was charged with involuntary manslaughter; James had been the one supervising Hannah at the time she received the bleach burns that resulted in her death. A new judge ordered Samuel, then 5, and Isaiah, then 11, to be placed in foster care. In October the bodies of Mollie and Josiah were exhumed, and the deaths of both Hannah and Josiah were ruled homicides while the deaths of Noah and Mollie were ruled inconclusive.
In November, James was acquitted of all charges. Kathleen and Timothy immediately turned their attention to regaining custody of Samuel and Isaiah, and were eventually granted home visits. In June 1994, Isaiah implicated James in Josiah’s death. Home visits continued, but the judge ruled that James must not be present. In May 1995, after James had turned 18 and left home, Samuel and Isaiah were returned to the Carrolls. In October 1997, as a result of legal representation by the Home School Legal Defense Association, the Carrolls were allowed to resume homeschooling Samuel and Isaiah.
Date: September 21, 1992, through June 14, 1993
Location: Cedarville, Ohio