Fall River Pair Held for 120 Days in Autistic Teen’s Death
The father of a severely autistic Fall River teen who may have died of neglect and the father's girlfriend have been ordered held without bail for an additional 120 days while awaiting trial.
John Almond, 33, and Jacyln Marie Coleman, 26, appeared before Judge Kevin Finnerty at Fall River District Court on Thursday for a dangerousness hearing, according to the Fall River Herald News. Almond and Coleman have already been in custody for more than a week.
On Oct. 21, police responded to a 911 call from an apartment at 107 Green Street and found 14-year-old David Almond emaciated and unresponsive. The teen was rushed to Charlton Memorial Hospital and later declared dead. Police say they found evidence of daily narcotics use within the squalid home. They say the boy, at five feet ten inches, weighed about 80 pounds and was found in a heavily soiled adult diaper.
David Almond was one of three severely autistic triplets. One of his brothers – Michael Almond, who was also found emaciated, neglected, and living in the home – was transported to Hasbro Children's Hospital. Michael Almond and a 3-year-old boy, the biological child of Almond and Coleman, both tested positive for fentanyl, investigators said. A third 14-year-old triplet remains institutionalized.
John Almond and Jaclyn Coleman are charged with abuse of a handicapped person and possession of heroin. Coleman is additionally charged with assaulting a police officer and intimidating a witness. The Bristol County District Attorney's Office says other charges may be forthcoming.
At the time of David Almond's death, the family had been under Department of Children and Families oversight for more than a year, the Herald News reported. However, a DCF worker had not seen the children since they were placed back under their father's care in March. The boys had been in Devereaux Advanced Behavioral Health, a residential facility in Rutland that specializes in autism and behavioral disorders. A teleconference call with a DCF worker and the family reportedly took place sometime in September.
Almond’s mother, Ann Shadburn, 58, also lived in the apartment. She and her son admitted to investigators that they were using heroin and fentanyl. Shadburn has not been charged.
Fall River Mayor Paul Coogan has promised an independent investigation into the circumstances that led to David Almond's death. State Rep. Carole Fiola is also demanding answers and wrote to Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, and to the heads of state agencies asking them to identify their systemic failures. The teen was reportedly a freshman at BMC Durfee High School and signed up for remote learning.
"Remote learning is not going away for some time," Fiola wrote. "We are very likely to have other children in harm’s way. It is my fear that with COVID-19, these cases are not being reported and monitored appropriately. This is what we have all feared since day one.”