It worked. On Sept. 21, after her image was broadcast round-the-clock on news shows, Madelyne Gorman Toogood, 25, surrendered to Mishawaka police. She denies punching her 4-year-old daughter Martha but admits that she hit her with an open hand and pulled her hair. Toogood says the video made her "sick to my stomach."
By the time she saw it, she was on the run. After hearing that her sister Margaret Daley—who police say witnessed the alleged beating—had been arrested for failure to report child abuse, Toogood says she flew to the home of her mother, Mary Gorman, in Baltimore. Then she drove to New Jersey to have Martha examined by Dr. Jack Haberman, who says the girl was not injured. (Haberman was questioned by local officials after dropping off nude photos of Martha to be developed, but the prosecutor acknowledges that the pictures were taken to document that she had not been abused, and no charges were filed.) Toogood watched the video in her hotel room and decided to turn herself in when she learned that a warrant had been issued for her arrest. She then drove two days straight back to Indiana.
Toogood, who has two older children, Hank, 6, and Johnny, 5, says her rage was the result of a bad day. She bickered with her husband, Johnny, 29, an itinerant home repairman, before she left the house. At the store, Martha slipped away to play with Barbies, and the cashier refused to accept a return without a receipt. (Toogood was already wanted in Texas for allegedly shoplifting at another Kohl's.) Toogood claims that she is being punished in part because she belongs to a gypsylike tribe known as Irish Travelers, some of whom, police say, are con artists. Her lawyer Steven Rocket Rosen says the Toogoods don't fit that mold: "They are a very close-knit family."
Martha has been placed in a foster home, and her brothers are with relatives. Toogood is free on $5,000 bail but could face three years in prison if found guilty of felony battery. The prospect terrifies her. "I don't want to go to jail," she says. "My hope is to have Martha come home."
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