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Depraved adoptive (and heterosexual) parents from Florida, John and Linda Dollar, captured

Investigators found John and Linda Dollar in Utah by tracking cell phone signals. Being straight doesn’t guarantee you’re qualified to be a adoptive parent. But it’s required in Florida.

I cannot overlook the irony that this sick heterosexual couple, described as “strict and religious” no less, was able to adopt and torture, starve and electro-shock innocent children. In Florida. Jeb’s state has ruled gay people, are ineligible to adopt. What did this state do to ensure this couple was qualified to adopt kids? (St. Petersburg Times):

A Citrus County couple accused of torturing and starving five of their eight adopted children were arrested Friday evening in southeastern Utah. John and Linda Dollar were arrested at 7:10 p.m. Eastern Standard Time after law officers saw their gold Lexus sport utility vehicle on a roadway. Investigators said they learned the Dollars were in Utah by tracking their cell phone signals.

John Dollar, 58, and his wife Linda, 51, were being held Friday night at the San Juan County jail, said Citrus County sheriff’s Capt. Jim Cernich. It was unknown late Friday when they would be returned to Florida to face charges of aggravated child abuse. The arrest ended a search that attracted national media attention Friday. CNN and America’s Most Wanted posted mug shots of the Dollars on Web sites and broadcasts.

The children told investigators that the Dollars starved them, shocked them with electricity, pulled out their toenails with pliers, bound them with chains and strips of plastic and struck their feet with hammers.

A 16-year-old boy weighed 59 pounds. Twin boys, age 14, weighed 36 and 38 pounds, the Sheriff’s Office said. Seven children, ranging in age from 12 to 17, were living with the Dollars on Jan. 21, when authorities first began to suspect abuse. The children now are in the custody of the Department of Children and Families.

…DCF released documents that showed the Dollars adopted three children in Hillsborough County in 1995; at that time, they already had five children. DCF also said it had not investigated any complaints of child abuse or neglect involving the Dollars, adding to the puzzle of how allegations of such heinous acts, which authorities believe occurred in Tennessee as well as Florida, failed to surface over many years.

Friends and neighbors, meantime, described the Dollars as religious and strict, and said the children hardly ever were seen.

The investigation began Jan. 21 when Mrs. Dollar called an ambulance for her 16-year-old son, said sheriff’s spokeswoman Gail Tierney. The boy was taken to Seven Rivers Regional Medical Center near Crystal River, where he was treated for head and neck injuries. His injuries weren’t the only thing that caught the attention of law enforcement. No one in the family seemed able to explain how he got the injuries, including red marks around his neck, Tierney said.

Oddest of all was his weight: 59 pounds. He looked closer to 6 years old than 16, Tierney said.

In the next six days, investigators interviewed the children and John Dollar’s elderly mother, who lived with the family in rural Citrus County. The children were put in DCF custody Jan. 27. Investigators also spoke with the couple’s oldest adopted child, who is now more than 20 years old and no longer lives with the family. On Monday, the Dollars failed to appear at a hearing where the court system would determine, among other things, whether their children would remain in DCF custody or be returned to their parents, Tierney said.

When the Dollars didn’t show, authorities went to their home and found two of their vehicles missing and much of their belongings cleared out, Tierney said. A breakthrough came late Friday morning when investigators found the couple’s motor home abandoned in a Polk County RV park.

After tracking the couple’s cell phone calls, law officers determined the Dollars were near Salt Lake City and likely traveling in their gold Lexus SUV, which the motor home had been towing.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding