The story I’m about to tell has an all-too-familiar refrain: Mom and Dad split up. Mom’s boyfriend moves in. Just when family suspects something is wrong, child dies from abuse.
It’s as heartbreaking as it is frighteningly common, as you know if you’ve spent any time reading my blog posts. No matter how similar their stories, however, all of these children deserve their stories told and their voices heard. Each of these kids is special, unique, and very much loved, and I am honored to give every single one of them a voice.
This is the story of 19-month-old Ky’mani Moore.
At 9:01 on the morning of December 21, 2018, first responders in Old Lycoming Township, Pennsylvania were dispatched to a mobile home in the 1900 block of Misner Road. When they arrived, they found little Ky’mani unresponsive in a bedroom in the home.
According to township police chief Joseph Hope, “The child was not breathing, and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) was administered as paramedics prepared to transport him to the hospital.”
Ky’mani was taken to the emergency room at Williamsport Regional Medical Center, where, at 9:52 AM, the little boy was pronounced dead.
Ky’mani Zahfir Sosa Moore was born on Mother’s Day, May 14, 2017 at 1:46 PM to 19-year-old Alyssa Sharay Carpenter and 18-year-old Darven Randy Moore, Jr. The couple first got together in 2016. Ky’mani was named after one of Bob Marley’s sons; the name is of East African origin and means “adventurous traveler.”
Ky’mani was a gorgeous little boy with a head full of dark brown curls, big brown eyes with incredibly long lashes, a sweet little dimple in his chin, and a smile that lit up every room he entered.
Darven and Alyssa broke up in July of 2017, two months after their son was born. Within days of her breakup from Darven, Alyssa began dating her former boyfriend, Jason Micah Forsyth, who turned 20 on June 29, 2017. Jason evidently had a juvenile record, but those offenses are not public information. He was, he later told a judge, on probation from a juvenile truancy offense.
In September of 2018, Alyssa and Jason began living together, along with little Ky’mani, in Alyssa’s mobile home on Misner Road. Almost immediately, some members of Ky’mani’s family sensed that something wasn’t right. Ky’mani would show up with bruises and marks that Alyssa explained away by saying the baby had fallen over on his toys. He began crying hysterically whenever his mother arrived to pick him up from his grandparents’ house, kicking and screaming while she tried to buckle him into his car seat. Family members suspected something was wrong in Alyssa’s home, but without solid evidence, they were unable to do anything about it.
In November of 2018, about a month before his death, Ky’mani was admitted to Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pennsylvania, after experiencing vomiting, lethargy, and fever for over three days. Tests showed the baby had air in his bowels and was suffering from fluids leaking into his body. His stomach appeared bruised, but when Ky’mani’s paternal grandmother, Melissa Moore, questioned a doctor about it, she was told it was most likely discoloration from the swelling in his abdomen. He was released only a few days later when he was able to eat and drink without throwing up.
After Ky’mani’s death, an autopsy was performed on December 22, 2018 by Dr. B.K. Bollinger of Forensic Pathology Associates, although the report was not finished until April 15, 2019. The report read that Ky’mani had suffered “contusions of the head, torso and extremities, a skull fracture, healing fractures of two of his ribs and one finger.” He had also suffered internal injuries, extensive hemorrhaging, and numerous bruises and marks from prior abuse. Ky’mani’s death, which was ruled a homicide, was caused by “multiple acute and chronic blunt force trauma injuries.”
Investigators set out to determine who had caused the injuries and, therefore, the death of this beautiful little boy. In addition to the Old Lycoming Township Police, the Lycoming County District Attorney’s Office and the Lycoming County Department of Children and Youth assisted in the investigation.
According to a hospital official, at the news of Ky’mani’s death, Jason appeared “detached” and “did not appear to want to have anything to do with the situation.”
Police interviewed Alyssa, who initially failed to mention that her boyfriend lived in the home. Eventually, she told them that Jason was not Ky’mani’s father and that the last time she saw her son alive was the night before his death, when, according to an arrest warrant, “Carpenter stated she remembered waking up to Ky’mani crying. She walked over to his bedroom and found Forsyth in Ky’mani’s bedroom, giving Ky’mani a bottle.”
On the morning of Ky’mani’s death, according to Alyssa, Jason was the only person who had contact with the little boy after she awoke to his crying. Alyssa told police that at about 7:45 on the morning of December 21, 2018, she checked on her son and found him lying on the floor next to his stuffed tiger, so she left him there, thinking he was asleep. About 15 minutes later, she said, her boyfriend said he would go give the baby a bottle and change his diaper; he returned shortly afterward. An hour later, Alyssa said, she asked him to check on Ky’mani again.
The affidavit reads, “Carpenter said Forsyth walked out of Ky’mani’s bedroom and said, ‘I don’t know how to tell you; Ky’mani is unresponsive.’”
Prior to calling 911, Alyssa called Darven’s mother, Melissa, and said, “I think Ky’mani is dead!” Melissa urged Alyssa to call an ambulance.
Alyssa’s brother, Dennis Lockuff Jr., launched a GoFundMe immediately after his nephew’s death to help his sister pay for Ky’mani’s memorial service. The campaign, which is still open and reached $2,190 of its $10,000 goal, reads, “On December 21, 2018, we lost a member of our family who was only one and a half years old. His name is Ky’mani Moore, he was a super healthy toddler who went down for a nap and did not wake up. It is said he went into cardiac arrest, this was mentioned by EMS when they showed up to take Ky’mani to the emergency room where they performed CPR and gave him medicine but could not get his heart to start again.”
Ky’mani’s funeral was held on Thursday, December 27, 2018 at Sanders Mortuary in Williamsport.
When Ky’mani died, Alyssa was pregnant with Jason’s second baby; he had a son with his ex-girlfriend, Kirsten Neufer, but, for reasons unknown to Darven’s family, Jason was not allowed to have contact with his son. The month before Ky’mani’s death, Alyssa posted this video of little Ky’mani wondering about his mommy’s big belly. His little voice put tears in my eyes.
Interestingly, Ky’mani was not the first baby to die in Jason’s presence. While in high school, he lived for a while with a young couple named Nicholas and Caitlyn Gordner. The Gordners had an infant daughter named Elaina Raine, who was born on April 22, 2014. While living in the family’s two-bedroom apartment, Jason was given a bed in Elaina’s bedroom. On the morning of September 8, 2014, Jason got up and readied himself for school, walking several times past Elaina’s crib, apparently without noticing that anything was wrong.
Elaina’s family awoke to discover that Elaina, who was affectionately called “Raine Drop,” had died sometime during the night at not even five months of age.
When questioned, Jason claimed he didn’t know what happened to the baby. Elaina’s manner of death was ruled to be undetermined, and even though Jason was never named a suspect in the baby’s death, it’s certainly worth mentioning, especially since Elaina’s father is convinced that Jason was involved in the death of his precious daughter.
On the Justice for Ky’mani Moore Facebook page, a woman named Amanda commented about Elaina, “That baby was my niece and he wasn’t the cause of her death. She had no trauma to her body. She died from other reasons… There was a police investigation and the police, along with family never suspected Jason as a subject. She did not just stop breathing. I wish it was that simple but it is not. In no way am I defending what Jason did to that little boy and I hope he gets what is coming to him but he did not kill my niece.”
Another woman named Tammy mentioned on the same page that, prior to Jason moving in with Alyssa, she housed him for two years when he had nowhere else to go. Apparently, he wasn’t the most considerate house guest. Tammy said in a comment on the page, “…He was great, [for] awhile. Part of the family. Then he withdrew more and more. He was to the point where he only left his room for work. He was in a dark place. I kicked him out after months of trying to reach him, to help. All so sad.”
Tammy said in another comment thread, “I mean, he pissed in bottles and put them in a box. 5 feet from the bathroom…”
Sounds like a super charming guy.
According to later court records, Jason became unemployed in the spring of 2019 and remained that way for the rest of the year, all the while living with Alyssa in the mobile home where Ky’mani died. Alyssa evidently told people they were no longer a couple.
Someone on the Justice for Kymani page commented on a photo of the two of them together, “I was reading on her fb that they aren’t together and she [doesn’t] want him living with her but he refuses to move out… but here they sure do look like they together…”
Ky’mani’s paternal great-grandmother, Sherri Roupp, replied, “That one picture is them on snap chat the night before ky’manis funeral they were at the movies… she thinks we don’t see what she posts on Snapchat & fb but ppl send it to us…”
You read that right. The night before her son’s funeral, Alyssa was reportedly posting photos of their date night on Snapchat.
After a referral to Children and Youth Services in May of 2019, the agency launched its own investigation into the incident that caused Ky’mani’s death. Ky’mani’s father, Darven, received a letter from CYS in June, stating that the agency determined both Alyssa Carpenter and Jason Forsyth were indicated for abusing Ky’mani Moore. The allegations against each of them — that they had both caused bodily injury to Ky’mani by beating him and caused his death through any act or failure to act — were individually indicated, as well. This meant that officially, in writing, Lycoming County CYS named both Alyssa and Jason responsible for Ky’mani’s death. The photos of the report below were posted to the Justice for Kymani Moore Facebook page.
Still no arrests were made.
Alyssa and Jason’s daughter was born in June of 2019 and removed from their custody.
It seems Alyssa and Jason were together until around September of 2019, when Jason posted a status on Facebook saying they had decided to “part for good” and wished both Alyssa and himself well.
During the investigation, both Jason and Alyssa were asked to take polygraph tests regarding their respective involvement in Ky’mani’s death. According to family members from both Alyssa’s side and Darven’s, Alyssa passed her test, during which she was asked if she had harmed her son or witnessed any harm being done to him. Reportedly, Jason did not pass his polygraph, and at that point, he opted to stop speaking with police.
In October of 2019, Alyssa made a report to police that Jason had used her credit card in January to pay a few dollars for the popular online streaming service, Twitch. Some Facebook commenters took note of the perceived hypocrisy in Alyssa’s willingness to turn Jason in for stealing her credit card number but not for allegedly killing her son. As one put it, “How could she do this for something so petty but not her baby… maybe now that he’s in jail and can’t hurt her maybe just maybe she’ll have a change of heart and have the guts to finally tell the truth?”
Jason was arrested and hit with three felony charges relating to device fraud and theft. Because he was unable to post his $35,000 monetary bail, he remained incarcerated in Lycoming County Prison.
At long last, over a year after Ky’mani’s death, on January 7, 2020, Jason Forsyth was officially accused of inflicting multiple blunt force injuries on and thereby causing the death of 19-month-old Ky’mani Moore. Since he was already in custody for his theft charges, Jason did not have to be re-arrested on the murder charges.
Jason was arraigned on January 7 on charges of third-degree murder, aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of children, recklessly endangering another person, and involuntary manslaughter in Ky’mani’s death. Dr. Pat Bruno, a specialist in pediatric medicine at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, reviewed Ky’mani’s autopsy report and agreed with the assessment that the baby’s injuries were consistent with abuse. Jason was ordered by District Judge William C. Solomon to be detained without bail on the new charges.
During that hearing, it became apparent that Jason would try to deflect the blame for Ky’mani’s death toward anyone other than himself. Based on the questions his attorney asked Dr. Bruno, it seemed his first target was Darven Moore Jr., who had not even seen his son in days at the time of Ky’mani’s death. After repeated questioning on the time frame, Dr. Bruno asserted that Ky’mani’s injuries had been inflicted within 12 hours of his death by someone who had been with him during those 12 hours. Next, I’m sure we can expect Jason’s defense to attempt to pin the blame for inflicting Ky’mani’s fatal injuries on Alyssa herself.
Due to indigence, Jason was assigned a public defender named Matthew Welickovitch, Esq. His next court hearing is a pretrial conference scheduled for 9:00 AM on July 14, 2020 before President Judge Nancy L. Butts.
At some point in late 2019, Alyssa Carpenter and Darven Moore Jr. rekindled their relationship, to the chagrin of Darven’s family. Now expecting their second child together, a boy due in August, both Alyssa and Darven were arrested after a March 26, 2020 search warrant led to the seizure of drugs and paraphernalia from Alyssa’s mobile home. The two were charged with felony counts of possession with intent to deliver marijuana and conspiracy as well as related misdemeanor charges. Darven also received another felony count of possession of a firearm by a felon after a gun was found on the property. Darven was held in lieu of $99,000 bail, but Alyssa was able to post her bail of $45,000 and was subsequently released.
Preliminary hearings for both Darven and Alyssa on their drug-related charges are scheduled for July 1, 2020.
Darven’s firearms charge stemmed from a July 2017 arrest after he sustained a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the shoulder from a stolen 22 caliber revolver. He disposed of the weapon, was treated at the hospital and released, and was ultimately jailed on that offense in lieu of $25,000 bail. He faced a misdemeanor charge of tampering with evidence, which was dismissed, but he pleaded guilty to a third-degree felony charge of carrying a firearm without a license and was sentenced to 45 to 90 days in jail and four to six years of probation.
(The story of what really happened during that incident is a heart-rending one that you’ll hear from Darven’s mother herself on next week’s episode of Suffer the Little Children Podcast. More on that at the end of this post.)
Following that incident, Darven faced another misdemeanor drug charge in April of 2018, for which he was fined several hundred dollars. Two months later, he was arrested again after allegedly displaying nude images and a video of a teenage girl performing a sex act on social media. Darven was charged with sexual abuse of children, unlawful dissemination of intimate images, corrupting the morals of a minor, and harassment for that offense. Darven took a plea agreement and was sentenced to another 30 to 60 days in jail as well as community service and further probation.
He received another four to twelve months in jail and 50 more hours of community service after pleading guilty to simple assault after an undisclosed incident in January of 2019.
Darven has run into further legal trouble since then. After the March drug arrest, his family posted his $99,000 bail. Police allege that on May 28, he threw an M-80, which is an extremely powerful firecracker, into a backyard in the 2200 block of West Fourth Street in Williamsport. In that backyard, several children were playing on a trampoline, and when the M-80 exploded, one child received damage to the retina of his right eye and temporarily lost sight in that eye.
Darven is accused of throwing the M-80 into the backyard without determining the area was safe and leaving without saying anything to the children in the yard. Because this offense constituted a violation of probation, Lycoming County Judge Marc F. Lovecchio ordered Darven detained on felony charges of aggravated assault on a victim under 13 by a defendant over 18; felony aggravated assault by causing bodily injury with a deadly weapon; misdemeanor simple assault; and misdemeanor endangering another person. His formal arraignment on those charges is scheduled for 8:30 AM on June 29, 2020.
According to Alyssa, she now has custody of the daughter she shares with Jason Forsyth. It appears that Darven has accepted the little girl and loves her as if she was his own. Darven was also blessed with a second son in 2019. I hope once Alyssa and Darven’s son is born this summer, all three of their combined children will receive the love, attention, and nurturing they deserve.
Let’s take a minute to remember little Ky’mani as the fun-loving, joyful little boy he was.
Melissa told me that some of Ky’mani’s favorite things were balls, bubbles, and balloons, and she and her husband always made sure to have plenty of all of those things on hand when Ky’mani came to visit. He didn’t speak much yet, she said, but “ball” was one of his words, as well as “mama,” “dada,” and “pop,” which is what he called his paternal grandfather.
From Ky’mani’s obituary:
“Ky’mani Zahfir Sosa Moore, of Williamsport, became one of God’s children on Friday, December 21, 2018…
“Ky’ enjoyed watching Paw Patrol, Peppa Pig and Word Party on Netflix. He also enjoyed dancing, listening to music, playing ball and playing his drum set. He loved all things colorful, bright lights, his shoes, and the tags on his blankets. Ky’ was a momma’s boy at heart; he loved to cuddle with her. Ky’ will be remembered for his cute smile, adorable laugh and cheerful personality.”
Below are a couple videos Alyssa posted of Ky’mani during his short but love-filled life.
I will be telling Ky’mani’s story next week on Suffer the Little Children Podcast – Episode 18 with the help of a very special guest. Ky’mani’s grandmother, Melissa Moore, kindly agreed to an interview with me, during which she told Ky’mani’s story and shed light on a million questions I had scribbled down while researching his case. Melissa’s interview was both heartbreaking and revealing; don’t miss it!
Episode 18 will be available on Tuesday, June 23, 2020 at 5:00 AM on YouTube or your favorite podcast listening platform.
Rest in peace, Ky’mani, and may you get the justice you deserve.
Click here for my ongoing coverage of Ky’mani’s case.
Sources: Williamsport Sun-Gazette, Justice for Kymani Moore Facebook page, Sanders Mortuary website, Grenoble Funeral Home website, GoFundMe, NorthCentralPA.com, Penn Live Patriot-News, court records, Melissa Moore