- The Washington Times - Monday, October 7, 2002

The arrest last month of Madelyne Gorman Toogood in the videotaped beating of her 4-year-old daughter in the parking lot of a Mishawaka, Ind., department store focused attention on a band of itinerant men and women who have spent a lifetime trying to avoid the public spotlight.
Mrs. Toogood, 25, faces felony battery charges for punching, slapping and shaking her daughter, Martha, inside a sport utility vehicle after first looking around to see if anyone was watching. She turned herself into Mishawaka police nine days after the store's surveillance videotape was aired on national television networks.
She is scheduled for a preliminary hearing in the case today. She pleaded not guilty at an arraignment last week and is free on $5,000 bond. She could get up to three years in prison.
Mrs. Toogood has been described as a member of a band of "Irish Travellers," itinerant workers based in Fort Worth and White Settlement, Texas, and known as the "Greenhorn Carrolls." The group moves throughout the country in trailer homes, recreational vehicles and other transportation in search of temporary jobs and other financial opportunities.
Law enforcement authorities said the Greenhorn Carrolls are well-known to police nationwide and include a number of petty criminals and bunco artists.
They are part of an underground network of Irish Travellers, numbering between 7,000 and 30,000, believed to be living throughout the United States, although there are similar groups, also known as "travellers," in Britain and Ireland.
The Travellers are a closed society that has shunned the public eye and avoids public attention. They marry in their own group, they speak their own language, based in part on Gaelic. The Travellers, often tinkers, or menders of household utensils, move throughout the country in established groups and often work as day laborers who make their living through various home-improvement and business-repair projects, such as paving, painting and roofing.
Authorities say many Travellers are involved in criminal ventures, often conning elderly persons into paying for unneeded residential repairs or for legitimate work that is never completed.
Other Travellers, authorities said, specialize in sweetheart scams, telemarketing fraud, sweepstakes and lottery fraud, loan fraud, caregiver cons and shoplifting schemes, in which they return the stolen items for cash often making as much as $2,000 a day.
Many of the travelers are known for aliases and multiple sets of identification. They call outsiders "refs."
Mrs. Toogood has described her husband, John, as a roofing, paving and power-washing contractor, although police said he has an arrest record involving several petty scams.
The National Association of Bunco Investigators, based in Maryland, said no reliable data on Traveller victims exist, because an estimated only one in 14 suspected cases is reported. But the association has estimated that the number of victims is in the tens of thousands and that the profits are in the tens of millions of dollars.
Mrs. Toogood, who also has two sons ages 5 and 6, denied at a news conference after her arrest that she was a "monster," saying she had made a "mistake" in beating her daughter. She said she had become angry after the store refused her attempts to return some merchandise.
Mrs. Toogood's connection to the Irish Travellers is expected to play a role in any decision by Indiana officials to turn over her daughter to family members, said Charles Smith, director of the St. Joseph County Office of Family and Children.
Police said Mrs. Toogood has driver's licenses in four states: Indiana, Missouri, Texas and New Jersey, and has listed addresses in Missouri, Texas and Indiana. She also has two outstanding arrest warrants, one in White Settlement for failing to pay a $202 traffic ticket and another in Fort Worth for failing to appear in court to face theft charges.


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