2 held in OC drug death case

An Oil City man and woman were held for court Thursday on charges related to the drug-related death of a 14-year-old boy last year in Oil City.

Jarvis L. Mitchell, 32, and Heather Morgan, 37, had a joint preliminary hearing before district judge Matthew Kirtland.

Morgan is the mother of the boy who died last July at 7 Bishop Ave. Oil City police have said that the boy was directed to hide drugs, which eventually resulted in his overdose death.

Venango County District Attorney Shawn White called as his first witness Thursday a woman who had acted as an informant to police over the course of several months in 2018.

The woman said she had been Morgan’s friend for more than 30 years and had become became increasingly concerned about drug-related activity she observed at Morgan’s home.

“I was concerned for the safety of a longtime friend, and I was concerned for the children,” the woman said.

She said she met Mitchell in April 2018 when Morgan introduced him as her boyfriend.

The woman had gone to Morgan’s house when she heard Morgan’s son had died. On that day, she said Morgan told her he’d had a seizure.

In October, Morgan asked the woman to get rid of a Vicks jar that contained a baggie of a powdered substance, later confirmed by police to be heroin laced with fentanyl.

“She said that since he had died of a drug overdose, they were going to pin his death on her,” the woman said.

The woman said she hid the Vicks jar in the bathroom of Morgan’s home and, after consulting with an attorney, told Oil City Police Chief Robert Wenner.

Police served a search warrant at the Bishop Avenue residence on Oct. 12 and located the jar that contained 22.58 grams of heroin, which was found to be the same narcotics that killed the boy, according to police reports.

A second witness Thursday was an inmate who testified about conversations he’d had with Mitchell in the Venango County jail in which Mitchell had said it was his heroin that caused the boy to die.

“He (Mitchell) said that he wanted to get Chief Wenner assassinated because he messed up his organization,” the inmate witness said.

Police reports have identified Mitchell as a leader of a group moving large amounts of heroin and cocaine from Detroit to the Venango County area.

The inmate witness said Mitchell told him he was affiliated with the Ludys.

Wenner testified that the Ludys include Calvin Ludy, who is serving a nine-year state prison sentence for running a drug trafficking organization in the Franklin and Oil City area.

Calvin Ludy’s cousin, Jeremy Ludy, was held for court Wednesday following a hearing in Venango County Central Court on charges related to the 2017 overdose death of an Oil City man.

Both Ludys as well as Mitchell are known to have moved to the area from Detroit.

Wenner told the newspaper that local law enforcement has been arresting members of the loosely affiliated Detroit group since about 2004.

“We’ve been dealing with it since the early 2000s, and we will continue to deal with it in the foreseeable future,” Wenner said. “They will continue to fail because of the hard work of law enforcement officers of Venango County and the cooperation from the community that we get on investigations like this.”

Morgan’s lawyer, Christopher Martini, of St. Marys, asked that a charge of drug delivery resulting in death be dropped against his client.

“We’ve heard absolutely no evidence that she delivered the drugs to the young boy who died and there was certainly no evidence that it was intentional,” Martini said.

White argued that Morgan had intentionally allowed her son to be exposed to the drugs by involving him in the operation and allowing her home to be used for the purpose of selling drugs.

Kirtland ruled that all charges against both defendants be bound over for further court proceedings.

Both Mitchell and Morgan are facing felony charges of drug delivery resulting in death, endangering the welfare of children, corrupt organizations, manufacture, delivery or possession with intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance and related conspiracy charges. They are both facing a misdemeanor charge of involuntary manslaughter.

Other misdemeanor counts against Morgan include tampering with or fabricating physical evidence, possession of a controlled substance and use-possession of drug paraphernalia.

Both remain in the Venango County jail without bail.