July 28, 2014

Elyria
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Delay in death report lands charges

With nephew dead, couple allegedly waited before calling police to their home

LORAIN — A Lorain couple waited several hours before notifying anyone that their nephew had died in their home from an apparent drug overdose, police say.
Traci and John Moore, of the 1600 block of New Hampshire Ave., were arrested Friday, three days after police found the body of 19-year-old Travis Spurlock in an upstairs bedroom in their home. Both pleaded not guilty during a video arraignment Tuesday in Lorain Municipal Court, during which bond was set for both at $100,000.
The couple remains incarcerated at the Lorain County Jail.
Officers were sent to the couple’s home shortly before 1 p.m. May 22 to check on Spurlock, police said.
But when they arrived, police said they found the couple sitting inside a truck in the driveway, and they told the officers their nephew was dead inside, the report said.
Spurlock was slumped over the end of a bed. His hands were pale, the tips of his fingers were blue and postmortem lividity was beginning to set in, the report said.
“It was obvious he had been dead for quite some time,” County Coroner Dr. Paul Matus said.
Foul play is not suspected.
Matus said Spurlock likely died of a drug overdose. But he said Wednesday that he would continue to look into the case in light of the recent charges.
Toxicology reports show Spurlock had been using cocaine prior to his death. He also had a lethal level of oxycodine in his blood, Matus said. His levels were 1,492 micrograms per liter of blood, when the normal levels for pharmaceutical use are 10 to 40 micrograms per liter of blood, Matus said.
The Moores were charged with failing to report a body, child endangering, trafficking in drugs and possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia. They have been ordered to have no contact with their two minor children, who were in the home at the time of Spurlock’s death, police said.
Neighbors said the Moores have lived at the home for at least 30 years, and they’ve suspected that drugs were being sold out of the house for the last five years. Some said they instructed their children to avoid the house entirely.
“People would park on the street, go into the house and leave a couple minutes later,” said one neighbor, who declined to provide a name. “It seemed like police were there all the time.”
John Moore’s sister, Christina Higgins, also was inside the home when the body was found. She was charged with possession of crack cocaine and drug paraphernalia, and her bond also was set at $100,000.
The family refused to comment about the incident.
According to a police report, John and Traci Moore told police Spurlock arrived at their home about 2 p.m. the day before he died. He did not live there but was visiting for the evening.
He was lightly intoxicated and claimed to be suffering from a migraine headache, the report said.
Traci Moore told police she told her nephew to go to sleep and she peeked in on him about two hours later. At 6 p.m., another uncle, David Moore, came to the house and went into the bedroom to do the same. But the report does not fill the gap of time from when the uncle arrived and when police were called the next day about Spurlock’s death.
Spurlock was a 2006 graduate of Clearview High School, where he played junior varsity and varsity football his freshman, sophomore and junior years.
He was a hard-core footballer who really loved the game and the hype of Friday night, said football coach Matt Wilson.
“Each game, he’d go out there and give his all. He was definitely the kind of kid you wanted to have on a football team,” he said. “As a junior, he became a much better player to the point where I hoped he would became our starting fullback/linebacker his senior year.”
However, academic problems prevented that from happening. Still, Wilson said Spurlock was not the kind of kid he thought would get mixed up in drugs.
“I was shocked and really used it as an opportunity to talk to my kids and tell them how important it was to make good choices,” Wilson said. “It only takes one time. It doesn’t have to be an every day thing to be a potentially bad thing.”
Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.