High Bond Defended in Mystery Children Case

United Press International

The $100,000 bond for two members of the group called Finders, who are facing misdemeanor child abuse charges, is justified by the mystery surrounding the case and six children found with the men, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

The men, Douglas Edward Ammerman and Michael James Holwell, also known as Michael Houlihan, were arraigned on one count each of child abuse. Houlihan was also arraigned on a single misdemeanor count of resisting arrest without violence.

Public defender Michael Minerva asked Leon County Judge George Reynolds III to reduce their bonds, but Reynolds said a special hearing is required on that issue.

'An Unusual Case'

"It may be an unusually high bond, but it's an unusual case," state attorney C. L. Fordham said. "The bond is based more on the questions than the answers. We still don't know who the kids belong to."

Reynolds entered pleas of not guilty for both men and said they would receive a jury trial. They will remain in jail pending trial. No court date was set.

Police arrested the men on Feb. 4 after an anonymous caller said they had accompanied the children in a Tallahassee playground. The children range in age from 2 to 7 years old.

Children Dirty, Hungry

The children were dirty, bug-bitten and hungry when found. Ammerman and Holwell told police they were taking the youngsters to a school in Mexico for bright children and refused to answer further questions.

The men have since been linked to the Finders, a mysterious communal group in rural Virginia.

The FBI said it was close to wrapping up parts of its investigation of the Finders. Agents interviewed several women who said they are mothers of the children.

The children remained in custody of the Health and Rehabilitative Services Department and were being interviewed by a psychiatrist.

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