With questions and suspicion continuing to surround the death of 15-year-old Quawan Charles, found dead in a sugar cane field in Loreauville, Louisiana, on Nov. 3, the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office is investigating the teen’s death as a homicide, NBC News reports.
“Just as we do in any case involving someone found deceased in this manner, we immediately began treating this as a homicide investigation at the very moment we found Quawan ‘Bobby’ Charles,” the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office said in a statement Saturday.
As ESSENCE previously reported, Quawan was last seen alive leaving his home in Baldwin, Louisiana, on Oct. 30, with a then unidentified white woman and her 17-year-old son, known to be friends with Quawan. Multiple media reports have since named the woman as Janet Irvin, 37. ESSENCE is opting not to name her son, who is a minor and not yet charged with a crime.
Surveillance video shows what appears to be Quawan voluntarily leaving his father’s home and climbing into Irvin’s vehicle.
He was found dead days later.
“I want the lady who came to get my son without my permission, his dad’s permission, to be held accountable,” Roxanne Nelson, Quawan Charles’ mother, told KATC.com.. “You cannot just take someone’s son, bring them to your house and not be held accountable. She took them to her house, he was alive and well when he was here, and now he is dead when he went to Loreauville to her house.”
“He has a big knot on his head, so it’s obvious someone hit him on the head with something” Nelson continued.
According to a preliminary autopsy report, the Iberia Parish coroner listed “the cause of death as ‘likely drowning’ with muddy water in his airways and hyperinflated lungs. The preliminary report indicated he did not have injuries before his death and the condition of his face was likely caused by ‘aquatic animals’ while he was in the water,” the Washington Post, reports.
Quawan’s family have accused the Baldwin Police Department of ignoring their concerns and refusing to investigate when they reported the teen missing on Oct. 30, the last day he was seen alive. Gary Chambers Jr., community activist and publisher of The Rouge Collection, shared an audio reportedly of Quawan’s mother speaking with an unidentified woman who alleged that she had details about the teen’s disappearance.
According to the woman, her son told her that the people last seen with Quawan were high on psychedelics and that when her son attempted to enter the car, they told him no because they had recently bleached it.
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. announced Thursday that it is calling for an investigation into Quawan Charles’ death.
LDF Associate Director-Counsel Janai Nelson released the following statement:
“We are horrified by the highly suspicious death of Quawan ‘Bobby’ Charles and local law enforcement officials’ alarming lack of immediate action. After Quawan’s family reported him missing, the Baldwin Police Department failed to take the family’s concerns seriously and wholly neglected their duty as officers and public servants to swiftly and thoroughly investigate Quawan’s disappearance, possibly costing his life. This egregious disregard of Quawan’s life follows centuries of indifference toward the humanity of Black children.
“The racial disparities in missing child cases are staggering. Nearly 40% of missing children are Black, even though Black children only make up 14% of all children in the United States. Quawan’s case should have been acted upon and investigated immediately, including sending an advisory, organizing a search party, pinging his cell phone, and deploying all tools at the disposal of the Baldwin Police Department, the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office, and the St. Mary Parish’s Sheriff’s Office, which have been involved in this matter. Quawan and his family deserved urgency, assistance, and leadership from local officials, none of which was offered.
“We join Quawan’s family in demanding an independent investigation into his death, an investigation of all law enforcement agencies and officers involved in the mishandling of this case, as well as the arrest and prosecution of those responsible for his death. In addition, in response to the apparent misconduct of the law enforcement agencies involved, LDF has filed Louisiana Public Records Act requests with all three agencies involved to obtain details about the handling of this case thus far. We will continue to monitor this case to ensure justice is served for Quawan, his family and community.”