FARGO — A grand jury has indicted Erich and Tammy Longie on a first-degree murder charge following the death of a foster child they were caring for.
"It's jarring to go through that evidence," said North Dakota U.S. Attorney Drew Wrigley as he described the five-page indictment that shed new light on the death of five-year-old Raven Thompson.
Previously released court papers described the girl as lifeless in the days leading up to her death.
"We are alleging an ongoing course of conduct," Wrigley said.
The indictment paperwork suggests the abuse started shortly after Raven was placed in the Longie home by Spirit Lake Social Services last July. An FBI agent testified Raven had injuries all over her body.
While it's not exactly clear what happened to her, the indictment includes information regarding the alleged abuse of her seven-year-old brother Zane, who was also living in the home.
Prosecutors allege he was hit with hands, shoes, sticks and a paddle, and that other children were also kicked in the home.
"Young children, who are largely incapable of defending themselves," are being hurt by people who have been trusted to care for them, Wrigley commented.
The Longies were originally only charged with assault, but Wrigley said his office was able to upgrade the charges because of tips developed from his courthouse press conference days after the murder. He would not comment if any other arrests may be made. Several adults were living in the home.
"More and more people recognize they got something of interest, they have information, something of interest to investigators," he said.
Shortly after their arrests, the Longies' home on the reservation burned to the ground. Wrigley says the cause of that fire is part of this investigation.
"It's being investigated with an open mind. Perhaps there isn't a link. Not very often, but once in a life there are coincidences too," he said.