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Mother of toddler found dead in Auburn dies

Jessica Conway was seen at a vigil for her daughter in Marlborough on Aug. 19.John Blanding/Globe Staff/File

The mother of a 2-year-old girl who died less than three weeks ago in foster care in Auburn succumbed to an apparent drug overdose on Wednesday, officials said.

Worcester police said in a statement that officers were called to an Orne Street apartment at about 3 p.m. for an “unresponsive female,” later identified as Jessica Conway, 27.

She was taken to UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, where she was later pronounced dead, a hospital spokesman said.

Police said investigators believe “that the cause of death may be drug related based on information provided by family members in addition to evidence collected inside the apartment. However, the exact cause of death is pending until the completion of a post-mortem examination and the, final result of toxicology. This is an active and ongoing investigation.”


Conway, who had battled drug addiction, was the mother of Avalena Conway-Coxon, 2, who died suddenly in foster care in Auburn on Aug. 15. Authorities have not released a cause of death for the child, and no criminal charges have been filed in connection with the case.

Shortly after Avalena’s passing, Conway told the Globe that she was numb with grief and also criticized the state Department of Children and Families, which was tasked with monitoring her daughter while she was in foster care.

“It’s hit me, but it hasn’t hit me,” she said. “I’ll never see my precious baby for the rest of my life,” she said.

Conway said that she struggled with drugs over the past seven years and that she was in the midst of completing a live-in drug rehabilitation program.

“That was my number one motivation to get clean; to get back, to get back to her,” she said.

She had said the DCF “makes it increasingly hard to work with families,” and called for change in the agency’s handling of children in foster homes.


“Something needs to be done,” Conway said. “They need to do something about my daughter’s death.”

A DCF spokeswoman on Wednesday referred all questions to law enforcement. The agency has previously confirmed that child welfare officials visited the Auburn home where Avalena had been staying four days before her death.

The Worcester district attorney’s office could not be reached for comment on Wednesday night.

Calls to numbers listed for Conway’s parents were not returned, and a number for Avalena’s biological father Ronald Green Jr., was not in service.

On Sunday, the Globe reported that Conway was 25 and battling heroin addiction when she gave birth to Avalena on Aug. 10, 2013.

In the days before Avalena died, Conway’s Facebook page was filled with pictures of her little girl.

“Mommy loves u n im working hard to be together again XOXOX,” she wrote.

Conway had also posted a recovery message on her Facebook page shortly after losing her daughter.

“I will be in recovery for the rest of my days,” the message read in part. “Today I am grateful to be alive and drug-free.”

Evan Allen, Jan Ranson, Nestor Ramos, and Astead W. Herndon of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.