Another child’s pointless death can be largely chalked up to a parent’s drug abuse, according to the Pennsylvania State Police, and a young mother faces charges in that utterly preventable death.
On the morning of April 19, 2020, 20-year-old Demsey Mae Long awoke on the couch and got up to check on her daughter, three-month-old Luna Lee Jordyn O’Brien, in her bassinet in their shared bedroom. Demsey found the baby unresponsive, lying on her back, swaddled, with a blanket wrapped around her head and neck. Also in the bassinet with her was a mound of soft, fuzzy blankets between eight and twelve inches deep.
Luna was rushed to UPMC Hospital in Muncy, where she was pronounced dead at 12:49 PM. Her internal temperature was measured to be 104 degrees at her time of death. Ninety minutes later, it had only dropped slightly, to 102 degrees.
Meanwhile, the baby’s grandmother, 46-year-old Holly Jean Carey, arrived at the hospital at about 11:50 AM, while her mother, Demsey, didn’t show up until 30 to 45 minutes later.
Police who served a search warrant on Demsey’s trailer home at 181B Old Glade Run Road in Muncy, Pennsylvania described “an unusual amount of heat” in the bedroom, in which a space heater was running. The trooper unplugged the heater for safety reasons.
Investigators interviewed Demsey, who, while appearing to have a difficult time staying awake, told them she had exchanged custody with Luna’s father, 20-year-old Connor O’Brien, on April 18 after Luna had spent four days with her Connor. The custody exchange took place at about 6:00 PM on Saturday, April 18, after which Demsey and Luna visited Holly as well as Demsey’s sister, 22-year-old Jade Long, both of whom also live on the property where Demsey’s trailer is located.
Demsey said she watched TV for a while before putting Luna to bed in her bassinet, which was located in their shared bedroom, with a blanket wrapped around her. She said she had set the heater to low when she and Luna went to sleep between 10:00 and 11:00 PM.
According to Demsey, Luna awoke between 1:00 and 2:00 AM and wouldn’t go back to sleep, so she took the baby to the couch in the living room, fed her, and played a game on her cell phone until 4:00 or 5:00 AM, when she returned Luna to her bassinet, wrapped in a “swaddle and pink blanket that covered her face.” Then, she said, she let her dogs out and fell asleep on the couch.
When she awoke at around 9:30 AM on April 19, she said, she went into the bedroom to check on Luna and saw the baby’s lips were blue and her face was fully covered by the blanket. When she touched the baby’s stomach, she thought Luna might be dead, and after trying unsuccessfully to wake her daughter, she ran out the front door, crying.
Holly reported hearing a loud scream, at which time she and her mother, 64-year-old Deborah Ann Parks, ran to Demsey’s trailer. They noted that Luna was wearing long-sleeved pajamas with feet and had a blanket around her chest. The room, Holly said, seemed hot, and so was a blanket hanging across the doorway, evidently to trap the electric heat in the bedroom.
Holly told investigators that Demsey had borrowed a space heater from her the night before because Demsey’s heating oil had run out three weeks before.
Montoursville Trooper Matthew Miller wrote in the affidavit that Demsey “did not feel responsible for what happened to Luna.”
He continued, “Long originally related she woke up on 4/19/20 around 0930 or 1000 hours and had a ‘gut feeling’ Luna suffocated herself and went to check on her. She explained she made no contact with anyone including text message or phone calls before/after discovering Luna. She did not call 911.”
Later, an investigator discovered that Demsey had, in fact, Facetimed her sister at around 11:00 AM on the morning of Luna’s death. Miller wrote, “Both Long and Jade lied to investigators about several details regarding the morning in question.”
Luna’s dad, Connor, told police the baby was perfectly healthy when he handed her over to Demsey on the 18th. Demsey’s account echoed that sentiment.
Holly told investigators her daughter stopped using drugs when she got pregnant. Demsey told them she hadn’t done meth since May of 2019 (which, for the record, would have been after she became pregnant with Luna). She also told them she occasionally smoked weed, but not while Luna was in her care and not within the two weeks prior to Luna’s death.
Another search warrant, this one for Demsey’s blood toxicity, found multiple illicit substances in her blood that day, including amphetamine, methamphetamine, and marijuana, as well as another unnamed stimulant.
Shortly before the custody exchange on the 18th with Connor, Demsey sent a Facebook message to a friend saying, “I haven’t slept in a good 2 and a half days.”
A day before that, she sent a Facebook message that read, “Sorry I’m high as balls.”
The search warrant of Demsey’s home also turned up several items that were seized by police, including two glass pipes, a bong, and pills marked “833 / TEVA,” which a quick Google search revealed are the generic form of 1 mg Klonopin tablets. Klonopin (generic name: clonazepam) is used to treat seizures, panic disorder, and anxiety and belongs to the benzodiazepine class of medications, better known on the street as “benzos,” along with Xanax (alprazolam) and Valium (diazepam). Traces of illicit drugs were also found in her bedroom cabinet and jewelry box.
Despite Demsey’s claims that she was not using drugs, the affidavit stated that she “was obviously under the influence of a controlled substance” when she was interviewed.
What was that thing you said about not doing drugs, Mom?
In addition, a neighbor who lived nearby told police that people came and went from the trailer in a way that suggested drug trafficking.
A fatality review meeting was later conducted in regard to Luna’s death, during which one doctor said that “elevated body temperature is not a characteristic of asphyxiation.”
In his affidavit, Trooper Miller wrote, “I believe the continuous course of illegal drug use throughout Long’s pregnancy, which continued into Luna’s first few months alive shows an obvious lack of care and neglect, which contributed to Luna’s death.”
He added, “There is probable cause that Luna was unattended and uncared for to such an extent that she had an extremely high fever.”
On June 8, Demsey Long was arrested on one count of first degree felony endangering the welfare of children by a parent and booked into Lycoming County Prison. Her bail was set at $100,000 by District Judge Gary A. Whiteman.
Fueling my growing suspicion that Demsey is the CEO of bad decisions, she was also charged after her arrest in June with hindering apprehension for hiding her fugitive boyfriend, 22-year-old Tyler Wagner Sr., in her home on April 17 — yup, just two days before her baby’s death, although police have give no indication that this incident is in any way connected to Luna’s death. Tyler was wanted in connection with an incident that took place in Montgomery on the morning of Friday, April 17, 2020, during which he tackled a young man named Dylan Hamilton to the ground, pulled a handgun-style BB or pellet gun out of his waistband, pointed it at Dylan, and threatened to pistol-whip him.
Evidently, when State Trooper Nathan Birth showed up at Demsey’s trailer at about 10:40 AM on April 17 looking for Tyler, she stood in the doorway, refusing the trooper entry, and said Tyler was not there. The trooper later reported that Demsey’s eyelids were droopy, her pupils were constricted, and she was drowsy. Minutes later, however, police saw Tyler standing in the front door with Demsey, and he was arrested without incident.
In a Facebook post on April 17 that police were happy to screenshot, Demsey noted that she was high and that she lied to protect her boyfriend from being arrested. What a dolt. This is an example of why we need to teach our kids that social media is not their diary and that what you put on the internet has consequences!
On April 18, she posted a Sun-Gazette article about the incident, saying, “First of all it was literally a BB gun & it was Dylan’s lol. Forgot to mention how Dylan kept threatening to stab [Tyler] in the throat over and over again. Everyone stay fake asf thoo lolll.”
Tyler faces multiple charges in that incident, including terroristic threats, reckless endangerment, possession of an instrument of crime, simple assault, and harassment. Tyler is still awaiting formal arraignment on those charges, but was released from Lycoming County Jail on May 8 on $25,000 unsecured bail. He’s also awaiting formal arraignment on charges of DUI and careless driving stemming from an incident in December of 2019.
Tyler has previously been convicted of and/or pleaded guilty to a smorgasbord of drug and traffic crimes, including possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia (repeatedly), two prior counts of DUI, driving an unregistered vehicle, disregarding traffic lanes (multiple times), following too closely, failing to notify DMV of a change of address, possession of a controlled substance, purchase of alcohol by a minor, speeding, operating a vehicle without inspection, failure to use a safety belt, and careless driving (also multiple times).
According to Lycoming County Coroner Charles E. Keissling Jr., baby Luna’s cause of death has not yet officially been determined. He said, “We’re still waiting on a final autopsy report. I don’t want to issue a cause of death statement because at this point, we don’t have anything definite. Once we get that final report back, then we’ll move forward with the rest of the certification.”
The final report will be prepared by Dr. Samuel D. Land at Forensic Pathology Associates in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Even without an official cause of death, on August 14, Lycoming County District Attorney Ryan C. Gardner, who took office in January of this year, amended the criminal complaint against Demsey to include an additional charge of involuntary manslaughter, a second-degree felony. “Following a thorough investigation conducted by various members of the Pennsylvania State Police, this office arrived at the conclusion that the infant’s cause of death was due to a combination of hyperthermia, the Defendant’s reckless ingestion of illegal narcotics and her extreme neglect of the child.”
Just a couple of details and observations I wanted to mention before the end of this post:
- Demsey Long is Facebook friends with Ky’mani Moore’s mother, Alyssa Carpenter (AKA Alyssa Sharay Moore), whose ex-boyfriend, Jason Forsyth, is charged with beating Ky’mani to death in December of 2018. Many people, including members of Ky’mani’s paternal side of the family, believe Alyssa was complicit in Ky’mani’s death or was at least aware that her boyfriend was abusing her son prior to his death. I covered Ky’mani’s story on both the blog and the podcast.
- I’d really like to know why an arrest was made so quickly in this case while no arrests have been made — or a full investigation even performed — in the case of four-month-old Remi Joan Cowan, who died while in the care of a babysitter in June of 2019. It was later discovered that the babysitter was on methadone at the very least, although she refused a drug test, so it will never be known if there were any illicit substances in her system. The Pennsylvania State Police in Montoursville were responsible for investigating both babies’ deaths. I also covered Remi’s story on both the blog and the podcast.
- Is there something in the water in north central Pennsylvania? In just the last few months, I’ve covered multiple stories from the area, including Ky’mani and Remi, both from Lycoming County; Arabella Parker lived in Northumberland County at the time of her death; and Kendall Doss lived in nearby Bradford County. All four of those kids were seen at one point at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pennsylvania, where Luna Lee Jordyn O’Brien, who also lived in Lycoming County, was born.
Anyway, let’s bring the focus back to Luna, whose name appears to be derived from those of two characters from the Harry Potter series: Luna Lovegood and Lee Jordan.
Luna’s daddy seemed excited about being a father, posting on Facebook in December, “We can’t wait to meet you little Luna…”
After his daughter’s birth on January 10, Connor posted several photos of the baby, saying, “Little Luna is here! So happy to finally meet her. Definitely a life changing experience…”
Demsey wrote the following Facebook post on May 19:
I don’t doubt for a second that Demsey loved her daughter. It just seems she didn’t love her enough to stop doing drugs or care for her properly, and unfortunately, it cost Luna her life.
Rest well, sweet baby. You deserved more than three months and nine days on this earth.
Sources: NorthcentralPA.com, Sun Gazette, Penn Live Patriot-News, Pennsylvania’s Unified Judicial System website, Facebook, The Express