Two Spirit Lake foster parents will make their initial appearance in federal court today, Monday, May 18, in connection with the May 6 death of Raven Thompson, 5, on the Spirit Lake Reservation in northeast North Dakota.
Erich Longie Jr., 42, and Tammy Longie, 45, were arrested Friday, May 15, by the FBI. Formal charges have not been released, but an affidavit made public on Monday suggests there is probable cause that the Longies committed simple assault and assault resulting in serious bodily injury.
According to court documents, Raven Thompson was found dead by Tammy in the Longies' Tokio home the morning of May 6, and Spirit Lake EMS responded just before 7 a.m. After first responders cleared occupants from the residence, Zane Thompson was also found in the back of a red Suburban located at the residence, according to the affidavit. Raven and Zane had been in the care of the Longies since July 23, 2019, the affidavit said.
Medical care providers suspected Zane's injuries were the result of non-accidental trauma, according to court documents, and he was transported by air ambulance to Sanford Hospital in Fargo. On May 11, he was stable enough to be transferred out of the intensive care unit, but remained at the hospital on May 15, according to the affidavit.
Tammy Longie told investigators that 13 people lived at the residence, including their three adult children and eight minor children. U.S. District Attorney for North Dakota Drew Wrigley and the FBI said last week that the children were taken out of "harm's way" by Spirit Lake Social Services after the incident.
According to court documents, Tammy also told investigators that, in the days prior to her death, Raven had not eaten much or used the bathroom, and moaned and complained about her stomach. A preliminary autopsy report found evidence of blunt force trauma to the head and neck, blunt force trauma to the chest and abdomen and blunt force trauma to the extremities. The preliminary cause of injuries is listed as "assaulted by other(s)," according to court documents.
Erich and Tammy Longie denied assaulting the children aside from spanking them, according to investigators, and Tammy said she had not seen anyone else in the house be abusive toward them. Three of the minor children living in the residence told investigators in forensic interviews that Tammy and Erich hit, kick, spanked and hurt them, according to court documents.
Spirit Lake Social Services could not be immediately reached for comment Monday afternoon.
U.S. District Attorney for North Dakota Drew Wrigley confirmed last week that the FBI was leading the investigation into Thompson's death. The Longies' initial appearance will be held in Grand Forks, and Wrigley will hold a press conference on the steps of the Fargo courthouse at 4:30 p.m. to discuss the case.