ST. MARY PARISH, La. (WAFB) - The hours between Quawan Charles leaving his home in Baldwin, Louisiana and his body being found in a field near Loreauville are the focus of an ongoing investigation.
Gripped by grief, Charles' mother, Roxanne Nelson, says answers aren’t coming soon enough.
By her account, Charles left home the day before Halloween. He’d left with a friend’s mom without seeking parental permission, she says.
She called at 3 p.m. to check in, then again at 8 p.m. when she didn’t hear back from him. Later that night, calls were put in to the Baldwin Police Department and Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office to report Charles as missing, she says.
Charles' family says they “obtained evidence” about his location on Nov. 2.
On Nov. 3, investigators from the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office reported they’d found a body.
"On November 3, 2020 at approximately 5:00 p.m. deputies with the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office Patrol Division and the Bureau of Investigation located the body of a male juvenile in a rural area adjacent to Ed Broussard Rd. near the village of Loreauville.
The male had been reported as missing to the Baldwin, LA Police Department on October 30. An autopsy was requested and the results are pending at this time. The investigation is ongoing," says a post shared to the sheriff’s office Facebook page on Nov 5.
“I’ve been crying all day. I wake up in the middle of the night. I’m missing my son. I’m missing his smile. I’m missing his jokes,” said Nelson at a vigil later held to remember him.
The family now has an attorney, who questions how seriously detectives treated the missing person report.
“To pacify the family, law enforcement said that Bobby was probably at a football game and dismissed their fears. Despite the family’s pleas, no Amber Alert was ever issued,” wrote attorney, Ron Haley.
Stoking the family’s demand for answers is a graphic photograph leaked online of Charles' body.
In it, Charles' face is seen swollen and discolored, with parts of his jaw exposed due to missing skin. A large laceration is also visible on his head.
The authenticity of the photo has not been confirmed with law enforcement.
“His face is disfigured, so there’s some explaining that needs to be done there. His face is disfigured,” said family spokesperson, Celina Charles, to KATC.
Celina told the television station the family is suspicious of the little information they’ve received from law enforcement saying the teen drowned. They’re now pursuing an independent autopsy.
“Due to the lack of transparency, collective indifference, and moral failings of law enforcement, Bobby’s family has been forced to undertake the serious financial cost and enormous emotional stress of arranging for an independent autopsy in order to get any answers about Bobby’s death. The cost of this independent autopsy was not just financial for Bobby’s family, it has greatly worsened the grieving process by delaying when they can put their child to rest,” wrote Haley. “We need to know, at the least, the preliminary findings of the coroner as to the cause of death, and we want answers from the Baldwin Police Department as to why an Amber Alert was never issued in the days that this child was missing."
Baldwin Police Department Assistant Chief of Police Samuel Wise III issued a statement Tuesday, Nov. 10 through the agency’s Facebook page responding to the growing criticism.
“We are not investigating the death of a body found in Loreauville, Iberia Parish. However, the Baldwin Police Department will be investigating reasons why the deceased juvenile was missing from his residence in Baldwin. Proper protocol was used to report the juvenile as missing and all procedures were followed thru within the Baldwin jurisdiction,” wrote Wise III.
In an update shared through the sheriff’s office Facebook page Tuesday, Nov. 10, investigators say multiple people have been interviewed and evidence is being processed. Results from an autopsy ordered by law enforcement are still pending.
“He was found dead under mysterious circumstances, and we just want an honest and thorough investigation with the Iberia Parish Sheriff Department,” the teen’s stepfather, Jason Nelson, said previously.
Anyone with information concerning this death is asked to contact the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office, Bureau of Investigation at 337-369-3711.
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