From time to time, Suffer the Little Children will feature a story from the less recent past. Years may have gone by, but these children still deserve to be remembered and their stories told. These posts can be found under the “Forget Me Not” tag.
In today’s Forget Me Not post, I’m going to tell you the story of 18-month-old Kendall Lynn Doss, a precious little girl with blonde hair, her Daddy’s brown eyes, and the chubbiest, most adorable cheeks you might ever see, who fell prey to the temper and disgusting urges of her mother’s fiance. This story is horrific, infuriating, and gut-wrenching, but Kendall deserves her story told.
Kendall Lynn Doss was born weighing 9 pounds, 5 ounces on February 23, 2014 in at the Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, Pennsylvania to then 34-year-old Jessica Marie Farmer Arnold and 25-year-old Derek James Doss. Although there was a nine year age difference between them, both Jessica and Derek at one time attended Wyalusing Valley High School. According to Derek, the couple started dating at the beginning of 2012 when Jessica was pregnant with her third child. She was already the mother to a teenage daughter and a tween son.
Near the end of 2014, Jessica and Derek broke up, and by 2015, Jessica was engaged to a man named Jeremiah Alan Cordell of Forksville, Pennsylvania. Jeremiah, who went by JC, was born on July 25, 1988, and by September of 2015, 27-year-old Jeremiah had earned himself a couple short stints behind bars, beginning in 2008, when he was charged with misdemeanor theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception, and receiving stolen property; he entered a guilty plea and was sentenced to 57 days of confinement. After a similar incident in June of 2010, JC was charged with misdemeanor theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property, corruption of minors, and conspiracy, for which he was spent another four months locked up.
In addition to the incidents for which JC was arrested and charged, he reportedly brought chaos and bad behavior with him everywhere he went. According to a source close to the family, several people told Jessica that JC had previously sexually assaulted a young boy, but no charges were ever pressed in the case. Jessica, my source said, ignored this information.
“Then he would try running over kids in the [neighborhood],” my source told me. “He’s tried running over numerous kids in town.” Despite her fiance reportedly coming within inches of killing several neighborhood children, Jessica was unphased.
Nothing, however, would be more shocking than the offenses Jeremiah Alah Cordell committed on September 13, 2015.
On that day, Jessica was at work while three of her children, a then-16-year-old girl, a three-year-old girl, and 18-month-old Kendall, were in the care of their mother’s fiance at their home on Hubler Street in New Albany Borough. When Jessica returned from work, everything seemed fine; she took Kendall with her to run some errands before stopping to eat at a restaurant. Afterward, Jessica once again left Kendall with JC while she dropped her three-year-old daughter off at her father’s home in Muncy Valley.
During the trip, Jessica received a text from JC telling her that Kendall had vomited, but he had cleaned her up and put her to bed. When Jessica arrived at home, she peeked into Kendall’s bedroom, where the baby appeared to be asleep. Satisfied that everything was fine, Jessica went to bed.
On the morning of Monday, September 14, however, the horrific truth would reveal itself. At around 6:00 AM, Jessica got up to take a shower. When she tried to wake Kendall, she discovered that her daughter, who was tucked into her toddler bed wearing only a diaper, wasn’t breathing.
Kendall Lynn Doss was pronounced dead on the scene at just 18 months of age.
According to a source close to the investigation, the same day Kendall died, Jessica packed up all of the baby’s clothing and belongings and, according to what she told Derek, donated them to a day care center. I’ll repeat this for the ones in the back: this happened the same day Kendall died.
The night after Kendall’s death, a friend invited Jessica to the bar to “careless whisper and DMX the night away,” to which Jessica responded, “Who’s gonna by [sic] me my first drink cuz momma is broke…”
It didn’t take long for some to become suspicious that Jessica knew more than she told the police. (Note: Jessica has never been charged with any crime relating to Kendall’s death.)
During an interview with police on September 14, JC told investigators he fed Kendall dinner the night before, gave her a bath, cleaned her up after she vomited, and dressed her in a clean diaper before laying her on her bed, where, he said, she “pretty much passed out.”
Two days later, JC’s account of the events of September 13 changed several times. One version was simply, “I don’t remember.” In another version, he told police that while taking Kendall for a bath, he accidentally dropped her on the steps.
My source told me that the steps in question were in fact a full set of severely steep, hard wooden stairs, and that Kendall was not just dropped on but thrown down the stairs.
The same week Kendall died, both Jessica and Derek spoke with reporters, giving very different opinions of what they believed happened to little Kendall, who had been hospitalized the month prior to her death.
Jessica said that the morning of September 14 was like every other day, “except yesterday morning, of course, Kendall, she wouldn’t wake up. From what I was told, she had passed in her sleep.”
She told the reporter that the month before, doctors found blood between Kendall’s brain and skull, triggering a case to be opened with Children and Youth Services. She assured the reporter that the case being opened was just “procedure.”
Well, yeah; when a seventeen-month-old baby shows up with a severe head injury, it would be “procedure” for the agency responsible for protecting children to open a case if medical professionals suspect the injury was caused by child abuse.
“Is there any doubt in your mind that this could be anything other than a natural death?” the reporter asked, to which Jessica replied:
“No, not at all, not at all.”
Derek, however, was far from convinced of that. After Kendall’s hospitalization in August, he was concerned about his daughter’s well-being. Five days prior to her death, he walked into a CYS office, seeking answers from the agency’s investigation into Kendall’s injuries. He later said the police were called, and they threatened to arrest him if he showed up on Jessica’s property. “I pretty much get advised to stay away,” he told the reporter, “and then a week later I get woke up to someone telling me my daughter’s dead. I mean, how are you supposed to handle that?”
Derek took Kendall’s death particularly hard. She was his only child at the time, and his pain was exacerbated by being forced to wait for answers. “I want to know how long it takes to find out whether it is criminal or whether it is natural,” he said. “I just don’t understand how it could be natural.”
Kendall’s funeral was held on Friday, September 18 at the Maryott-Bowen Funeral Home in Towanda, Pennsylvania. Pastor Kitty Keller of the New Albany United Methodist Church officiated. Reportedly, Jessica wanted JC to attend the funeral, but because JC was under suspicion for Kendall’s death, both the police and Derek forbade him from attending.
My source witnessed Jessica’s behavior at Kendall’s funeral, which raised red flags with several in attendance. “She was full of laughs,” my source said. “You couldn’t even tell that her baby passed away. She acted like nothing ever happened.”
Kendall was buried in Bradford County Memorial Park cemetery in Burlington Township.
When Kendall died, Derek’s brother, Dan, created a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for his niece’s funeral, writing, “My brother, Derek Doss, absolutely cherished his daughter and everyone who knows Derek know[s] he is devastated. His daughter meant the whole world to him.”
In later updates, Dan wrote, “A life taken too soon is one of the world’s cruel tragedies. No parent should ever have to go through the nightmare of burying one of their children. I watched how much it devastated my parents when they had to bury Derek’s twin sister years ago and now seeing him have to go through that same gut wrenching experience for his first and only child is every bit [as] heart shattering.”
Shortly after Kendall’s death, JC was arrested — but it had nothing to do with the baby’s murder. Instead, he was picked up due to unpaid fines resulting from his prior arrests, including a traffic-related incident in 2009 during which he was pulled over for exceeding the speed limit by more than 25 miles per hour and subsequently charged with driving while his operating privilege was suspended or revoked, as well as operating a vehicle without insurance.
According to family members, Jessica Arnold and her mother, Doreen Farmer, posted JC’s bail.
Police warned Jessica that because JC was suspected in her daughter’s death, he was not allowed to visit her home. However, multiple people in the neighborhood made reports to the state police after seeing JC’s car hidden behind Jessica’s house.
When Kendall’s autopsy results were returned, the baby’s death was ultimately ruled a homicide caused by “traumatic head injuries consistent with both impact and shaking,” according to the criminal complaint. The medical examiner also found signs of sexual assault, indicating the 18-month-old baby had been raped.
BRB when I’m finished sobbing myself insane.
The results from the sexual assault kit used during the autopsy did not return until February of 2016. At that time, authorities learned that swabs taken from the right shoulder of a pink long sleeve shirt Kendall had worn on September 13, as well as the towel JC used to clean her up after she threw up, revealed the presence of semen on both articles.
DNA matched the semen to none other than Jeremiah Alan Cordell.
Another interesting detail is that, according to my source, the shirt and towel were laundered prior to being introduced into evidence, but the swabs taken still detected the presence of JC’s semen.
JC was arrested on Thursday, June 30, 2016 after a grueling nine months of waiting on the family’s part and investigation by authorities, who accused JC of sexually abusing and murdering Kendall Lynn Doss. He was charged with multiple crimes, including second degree murder; felony third degree murder; felony aggravated assault by attempting to inflict severe bodily injury; felony aggravated assault of a victim under 13 by a defendant 18 or older; felony involuntary deviant sexual intercourse with a child; and misdemeanor indecent assault on a person under 13. After being arraigned before District Justice Timothy Clark in Towanda, JC was ordered held in the Bradford County Correctional Facility without bail.
It is interesting to note that the arrest warrant for Jeremiah Cordell was reportedly issued in February of 2016, but he was not arrested until the end of June. I have been able to find no explanation for this delay.
Kendall’s identity was only released by Bradford County Coroner Thomas M. Carman once JC had been charged in her murder.
The arrest affidavit stated that tests run in May of 2015 at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore showed that Kendall was suffering from subdural hemorrhaging, which means blood vessels had burst between her brain and the dura mater, which is the protective membrane that surrounds the brain. This type of injury is usually caused by severe head trauma, such as a blow incurred in a vehicle accident, a fall, or an assault.
My source said that due to the head injury, Kendall was scheduled to undergo brain surgery at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville. Jessica was informed by medical staff that Kendall could not eat on the morning of her surgery, but, according to my source, she gave Kendall a cupcake, causing the surgery to be called off. (Anesthesia can cause some people to vomit while unconscious, which could lead to complications during surgery, including aspiration.) CPS, evidently, did not consider this seemingly intentional delay a red flag, even though the surgery was never rescheduled and never took place.
On one of JC’s scheduled court dates in July of 2016, family, friends, and supporters of Kendall amassed outside the Bradford County Courthouse for a rally demanding justice for the little girl they had loved and lost. Evidently, Jessica was none too pleased with the group, calling one teenage attendee “the devil,” telling her she was a “horrible person” and wishing the worst upon her. Jessica was of the opinion that JC was facing “enough time” without such public displays demanding justice.
In my opinion, there’s no such thing as “enough time” for someone who would rape and murder an 18-month-old baby, but maybe that’s just me.
Jessica called the state police to report the rally, which resulted in JC’s hearing being postponed. The police did not, however, break up the rally, instead telling the attendees that they were breaking no laws, so they were welcome to continue.
The next time JC appeared in court, he was outfitted in a protective vest.
Kendall’s supporters didn’t let the pushback stop them, holding a second rally outside the courthouse on August 26, 2016.
As for the injuries that ultimately killed her, had Kendall received medical attention immediately, she may have had a chance of survival, but JC did not afford her that respect. “He definitely did not let anyone know the child suffered a head injury,” said District Attorney Dan Barrett. “He did not do anything that would have allowed the child to get any sort of treatment.”
The trial of Jeremiah Alan Cordell was scheduled to begin in June of 2017. However, in May of that year, JC opted to accept a plea agreement, pleading guilty to third degree murder and accepting the maximum sentence, which is 20 to 40 years in prison. In exchange, the other charges relating to the rape and murder of 18-month-old Kendall Doss were dismissed.
Many people from the area were torn; while the guilty plea meant the brutal child murderer had accepted his responsibility for Kendall’s death and would spend at least two decades behind bars, many felt the punishment JC received was nowhere near severe enough to constitute justice for the crimes he had actually committed.
One New Albany resident told WNEP, “I think… he deserves the death penalty, but I don’t make that decision.”
Another said, “How do you take a baby’s life then basically get out on parole in 20 years?”
Derek Doss was given no say in the plea agreement offered to his daughter’s killer.
JC was officially sentenced on June 12, 2017. He said nothing during the hearing.
District Attorney Barrett said after the sentencing, “It’s been a very long and disturbing case. We’re glad to have it done at this point.”
That’s what it sounds like to me — that Barrett only offered this walking pile of flaming dog excrement a plea deal to get the case over with. I’m absolutely outraged on behalf of Kendall and her family, but now that it’s been decided, there is literally nothing that can legally be done to change the sentence. I have to wonder what Barrett’s reasoning was for offering JC this sweetheart deal in which he won’t even have to register as a sex offender when he is eventually released.
Now 31 years old, Jeremiah Cordell is incarcerated in the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution in Fayette. Here’s hoping the inmates know exactly what he was accused of doing and treat him accordingly.
Relentlessly. Viciously. Preferably around the clock.
Upon announcing in 2019 that he would not seek a fifth term as Bradford County District Attorney, Dan Barrett told the Star Gazette, “In the prosecution of over 10,000 cases, there have been thrills, victories, frustrations, and disappointments. There is much that my staff and I can recall with pride. Equally important, there is no shame or regret.”
I’d be very interested to speak with Mr. Barrett and find out exactly how he justifies the plea deal he presented to Jeremiah Cordell on a silver platter. No shame or regret at all, huh?
JC’s plea agreement and subsequent sentence was accepted by the judge despite a campaign of letters, emails, and phone calls by Derek and his supporters expressing their vehement opposition to the deal. Many have expressed their displeasure with the Bradford County judicial system for its apparent unwillingness to prosecute or adequately sentence child sexual abusers.
Jessica Farmer has run into a few spots of trouble in recent years. She was charged with misdemeanor false reporting of an incident that did not occur in January of 2018 after she reported to police that her vehicle had been stolen by an ex-boyfriend. She pleaded guilty to the charge and was fined around $300. A year and a half later, in August of 2019, she was caught speeding and fined a little less than $200; ten months later, she was ticketed for driving without inspection and fined another couple hundred dollars.
What is more serious than that, however, is that according to my source, CYS has removed Jessica’s two surviving minor children from her home for various reasons several times since Kendall’s death. Jessica’s 3-year-old daughter was reportedly removed from her home shortly after Kendall’s death after CYS was notified that she was continuing to sneak JC into her house. In another instance, Jessica and her boyfriend at the time were reportedly using meth, and her son, then 16, tested positive for the drug, resulting in the children again being removed.
Despite the suspicion that is near-universal in the court of public opinion, Jessica has never been charged in relation to her daughter’s rape and murder.
My heart goes out to Kendall’s sister, who is now about eight years old and probably beyond confused, not to mention severely traumatized by what she has seen and experienced. Some members of the family believe JC abused her, as well, and for that reason alone, I hope she is able to get into counseling or therapy to work through her inevitable trauma.
Derek, who is not the father of Kendall’s older siblings, was a part of her sister’s life from the moment the little girl was born. Now that Kendall is gone and a massive rift has opened between him and Jessica, Derek is no longer permitted to see the little girl, which breaks my heart, but it is clear from his posts on the Justice for Kendall Lynn page alone that he cares deeply for her and worries about her safety.
Derek is now the doting father to a little boy.
Kendall Lynn Doss was a little girl who only experienced 18 months on this earth, but she lived her short life to the fullest. She loved butterflies, swimming, singing, and especially going to the park with her older sister and her babysitter, Samantha, who was around 13 at the time. “I spent every day with them when Derek and Jessica were together,” said Samantha. “I was always bringing them to the park! One of Kendall’s favorite things to do was to go swinging with me!”
Although she was definitely a Daddy’s girl, the person Kendall was closest with was her sister, who was three years old when Kendall died. About the two little girls, Samantha said, “They had a bond I’ve never seen before. You would always find the two together, happy as can be!”
Samantha also said about Kendall, “She was the sweetest little girl I have ever met! Her chunky little cheeks that could instantly make anyone smile, her cute little giggles that we’ll never forget that replay in our minds daily, her beautiful smile that could light up a room… she gave the best hugs, the kind of hugs that could make your heart smile, that could make your bad days good days. Let’s not forget her slobbery kisses; I’d do anything for another smooch from her. I [saw] so much in Kendall; she was so intelligent for her age and was very good at getting what she wanted, as no one could say no to her cute little face. From the day they brought Kendall home from the hospital, we instantly connected; she wasn’t just a little girl I babysat. She was like my baby sister, my heart, and most of all she truly was my best friend. We were inseparable; since the day her father brought her home, he called me ‘mother hen.’ I was always doing whatever I could or her, and doing my best to be a good role model for her. Everyone she met, she instantly stole [their] hearts, she was so precious. Our hearts will never heal; a part of all of us is missing without her here.”
It is achingly obvious how much Samantha loved Kendall. She is the most frequent poster on the Justice for Kendall Lynn page, often posting lengthy tributes to the little girl she considered her baby sister. She and Derek still consider each other family.
Kendall’s uncle Dan commented on the GoFundMe page, “The memories of Kendall-bug, as her grandmother calls her, will forever remain. Like her sweet little kisses on the tiny window as her grandmother left, or how she had the chubbiest baby cheeks with that intriguing scowl just like her daddy when he was an infant. We all know she was always smiling on the inside.”
This little girl touched a lot of lives, and she will never be forgotten.
Wherever she is, I hope Kendall is smiling down on the people who love her as she swings high to her heart’s content. Rest in peace, baby girl. Your memory will live on forever.
Sources: The Star Gazette, PennLive.com, WNEP, Bowen Funeral Home, PA Homepage, Inquisitr, Small Joys, The Daily Review, anonymous sources close to the family