Linda Dollar, 51, and John Dollar, 58, live in the quiet little northern Florida town of Beverly Hills. They had moved there in August of 2004; before then they called Knoxville, Tennessee their home where they ran a small school. Linda and John took seven foster children into their care while in the Volunteer State and brought the kids with them when they relocated to Florida. Included in this not-so-Brady Bunch was a sixteen-year-old boy, twin fourteen-year-old boys and their twelve-year-old sister, a thirteen-year-old girl, a seventeen-year-old girl and another fourteen-year-old boy. For the sake of brevity I'll refer to them from here on out as 16Boy, 14twins, 12sister, 13girl, 17girl, and 14boy.
Usually fostering children, and eventually adopting them, is a rewarding (for both sides) experience of compassion, generosity, and love. Getting a home was what the children wanted more than anything, but unfortunately for most of them the humble abode of the Dollars was anything but. It was more like a prison.
Actually, to say it was like a prison is inaccurate because in there the children would have had a much better life. Besides the two favorites -- 17girl and 14boy -- the children John and Linda Dollar had taken under their wings were banished to the closet, starved, neglected, generally abused in every form imaginable (except sexual).
In late January of 2005 a 911 call was the first alert of trouble in the Dollar residence. The 59-pound 16boy was found bleeding from a nasty cut on his forehead. His overall condition was much more alarming than his actual injury. According to Gail Tierney from the Citrus County Sheriff's Office, individuals investigating his case presented this scenario: 16boy was grabbed -- by John Dollar -- by the neck, was raised off of his feet, and then dropped with his head smacking the fireplace. Upon arriving at the house in Beverly Hills, which is about 85 miles north of Tampa, investigators interviewed the other children. That is when the sad, horrible tale began to be told. The Twin14s were 36 and 38 pounds apiece when they were found. They and their sibling, 12sister, were reportedly adopted in 1995, which had them living almost their entire life in the macabre existence, likely the only existence they've ever remembered.
They "looked like pictures from Auschwitz"
This assessment came from Tierney, referring to the overall picture they were faced with when they invaded the Dollar's house. The laundry list of accusations begin with the fact the five non-favored children lived in a closet in the master bedroom with wind chimes over the door so the Dollars would be alerted to any escape attempt. Cattle prods or some sort of stun gun was used to shock the little tykes. They were chained to certain areas of the house at times. Their feet were hammered. Some of their toenails were ripped out with pliers. "Revolting and disgusting" this list is, according to Don Thomas, a DCF administrator.
After the grisly discovery, John and Linda headed for the hills. Using their cell phones to their own undoing, the couple were caught in Utah on Friday, February 4, 2005 after their signals were tracked. Deputies in San Juan County, Utah nailed them at 5:10 PM (7:10 EST) after spying their gold 2000 Lexus SUV. They put up no resistance and were being held in the county jail in Monticello. Now they face charges in Beverly Hills of one count of aggravated child abuse and torture for all five children. In Florida, each abuse is a first-degree felony and could land the worthless Dollars in the slammer for thirty-to-life.
"We have five adopted children and have seen what we can do to help those less fortunate, we can see so many children who need special care, love and an opportunity to be part of a warm, loving, caring home atmosphere." -Linda Dollar, from a 1995 DCF questionnaire
5/23/08 - Funny. At first glance I thought at first glance that this was an update to this story. What's up with people in Florida, anyway? Oh, sorry swankivy:) But anyway, an actual update to this story, in September, 2005 both John and Linda plead guilty to charges of aggravated child abuse and were convicted of 15 years each.