Charges against a Mount Holly couple who allegedly inflicted "unimaginable cruelty" upon their adopted children is eerily reminiscent of a notorious case involving a Collingswood couple who allegedly starved their adopted children as punishment 10 years ago.
Coincidentally, both South Jersey couples' also have the same last name - Jackson.
In the 2003 case, a neighbor found the emaciated Bruce Jackson rummaging through a trashcan searching for morsels of food in the middle of the night. He was 19 and weighed 45 pounds. He later told investigators he was so hungry that he sometimes gnawed on the wallboards of their house.
Raymond Jackson Jr., then 50, and his wife, Vanessa, then 47, were charged with multiple counts of abuse involving Bruce and three other adopted boys who also were malnourished.
Vanessa served four years in state prison after admitting to child endangerment. Her husband died of a stroke while charges were pending.
In the newest case, John E. Jackson, 37, and his wife, Caroline, 35, were indicted on charges they neglected and abused three adopted children between 2005 and 2010. Like the Collingswood Jacksons, the pair is accused of withholding food, water, and medical care, partly to discipline the children.
Both couples also said on support group websites that they were being aggressively and unfairly prosecuted for taking steps to make their children behave. Both couples were described as religious Christians who homeschooled their children.
In a 2011 WorldNetDaily online story, the Mount Holly couple was described as "devout Christian homeschoolers with a history of helping troubled youth." An online posting that year in support of the family said the Jacksons had two adopted daughters, both age 4, and three biological children. A third adopted child had died earlier of a seizure.
The Mount Holly couple is accused of delivering beatings that broke bones and of forcing the young children to eat red pepper flakes and hot sauce, according to a federal indictment.
The Collingswood couple, according to authorities, had forced their adopted sons to eat raw pancake batter and uncooked oatmeal. Later, some of the boys described their ordeal on Oprah's former TV show.