News

Friends shocked by Palmyra murder

Written by Merriell Moyer/Lebanon Daily News | Jun 8, 2016 8:19 AM
palmyra_murder_demko.jpg

A memorial is of flowers and balloons is set up in the driveway of the home at 805 E. Cypress St. in Palmyra Borough on Tuesday June 7, 2016, where Lorrie Demko was allegedly murdered by her son Jacob Taliaferro, 17, early Monday morning, June 6, 2016, according to a release from the Lebanon County District Attorney's Office. Taliaferro allegedly stabbed Demko and then strangled her until she died, according to the release. (Photo: Jeremy Long, Lebanon Daily News)

(Palmyra) -- The day after the brutal murder of Lorrie Ann Demko, family friends are still trying to make sense of the situation.

Jacob Taliaferro, 17, was charged Monday with stabbing his mother with a kitchen knife then strangling her with a length of rope in their Palmyra home early Monday morning. He then watched television and took a shower before calling police to turn himself in, according to the Office of the Lebanon County District Attorney.

"I never would have dreamed that Jacob could do this," Melissa Hess, a close friend of Demko's and mother of Taliaferro's best friend, said.

Melissa and her son, Bradley, were waiting near Demko and Taliaferro's home at 805 Cypress St., hoping that Taliaferro's older siblings, Kyra, 20, and Brian, who is in his late 20s or early 30s, would be home for them to offer their condolences.

Melissa and Bradley Hess met and befriended Demko and Taliaferro when the two boys began going to Northside Elementary School, 301 E. Spruce St., Palmyra.

"Bradley and Jacob have been friends since they were 5 years old, and I've been friends with Lorrie since the two of them became friends," Melissa Hess said.

The two boys and their mothers became fast friends, and they all stayed in touch with each other even after the boys started going to different schools, Melissa Hess said. Bradley Hess went to Yellow Breeches Educational Center, while Taliaferro continued in the Palmyra Area School District into his high school years, but recently left the school district to begin home-schooling.

"He just quit school," Bradley Hess explained. "He said he got tired of it."

Taliaferro was often upset with his mother for no good reason, according to Bradley Hess.

"He was saying that he didn't like his mom anymore," he said. "He said he wished he didn't have her as a mom -- stupid things like that."

Taliaferro would barricade himself in his bedroom using a dresser to block the door to keep his mother out, Bradley Hess said.

"We've known Jacob since he was 5 years old and he'd spend weekends at our house, and he had a lot of problems," Melissa Hess said. "The police have been out here before. Lorrie was quiet for her part, but Jacob was constantly yelling at his mom."

The police were called out off and on over the years, according to Melissa and Bradley Hess, but the Palmyra Borough Police Department would not confirm or deny that information. Melissa Hess said a live-in boyfriend, who hasn't been living there for years now, was the reason for many those calls, but more recently the calls were because of Jacob.

"He didn't like Lorrie because he didn't always get his way," Bradley Hess said. "I liked her. She was a great mom. I told him, 'You only get one mom, and that's all you get.' I tried to tell him. I don't know why he would do this."

Taliaferro had been struggling with emotional problems for a long time, according to Melissa Hess.

"He was in Philhaven a few times," she said. "He was always very depressed, but it has gotten worse since he's been in middle and high school."

Taliaferro was taking prescription medication for his depression, Melissa Hess said.

"When he stayed overnight at our house, we had to make sure he took his anti-depression medicine," she explained. "He had quite a bit."

He also had anxiety around people, according to Melissa Hess.

"We had him over for a birthday party once several years ago, but we had to take him home early," she explained. "He came up to me and asked me to take him home because he couldn't take being around all the people."

Taliaferro and Bradley Hess were both victims of severe bullying during their middle school years, Melissa Hess said, and while she doesn't blame bullying for Taliaferro's recent actions, she said she thinks it didn't help his emotional well-being growing up.

Despite his emotional problems, Taliaferro and Bradley Hess would often stay overnight at each other's homes, and Melissa Hess said that the last time she saw Demko was after picking Bradley up from a recent sleepover.

"The last thing I got to say to her was, 'I love you, goodbye,'" Melissa Hess said. "That was two days ago."

After shedding tears for her friend throughout the night, Melissa Hess said her emotion has turned from sorrow to anger.

"I don't even know what I'd say to Jacob right now. I'm so angry at him for taking such a wonderful person away from everybody," she said. "He didn't just take her away from us, he took her away from all the other children in the neighborhood who thought of her as a mom."

*This article is part of a content-sharing partnership between WITF and the Lebanon Daily News

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