IBERIA PARISH, La. (WAFB) - The uncertainty surrounding Quawan “Bobby” Charles' death has turned to anxiety for some in Louisiana’s rural communities.
Detectives piecing together the hours between Charles leaving home and his body being found haven’t revealed much about his death other than labeling it as suspicious.
Demonstrators questioning the possibility that the case involves foul play gathered along with the teen’s family Wednesday, Nov. 11, outside of the Iberia Parish Courthouse to demand more information be released.
“We are here to demand justice for a family of people who gruesomely lost their loved one, a 15-year-old child who was found in a way that just breaks my heart,” said demonstrator Jamal Taylor. “Members of law enforcement have done what they do well which is deny and hide behind a pending investigation. This family deserves answers.”
An attorney representing the family echoed concerns that detectives are seeking to protect the integrity of the investigation at the expense of the teen’s family.
“There are certain circumstances where I absolutely understand - and I think anybody would - why things aren’t made [availble] to the public,” said attorney Ron Haley in an interview with WAFB. “But let’s talk specifically about Bobby Charles. His family should know...His mother and father should be made aware of every step of this investigation.”
Haley says besides the impacts to his clients, the community’s peace of mind is being eroded by the possibility that someone connected to the teen’s death could be living among them.
“The entire community should be frustrated with that because whoever is responsible for both his murder and coverup needs to be in jail and right now they’re roaming free with no restrictions in that community. And they are a danger to that community,” said Haley.
The investigating agency, the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office, has not said publicly if the teen’s death is being investigated as a homicide.
Louisiana’s ACLU affiliate sided with the family in critiquing the sheriff’s office.
ACLU of Louisiana executive director Alanah Odoms Hebert released a statement Wednesday slamming officials in the area for “disrespect and lack of transparency,” calling both “unacceptable.”
“We join the family in demanding a full and transparent investigation into the circumstances surrounding Bobby’s death,” wrote Hebert. “This family is grieving and deserves answers – not disrespect and stonewalling.”
With the demonstration falling on a holiday, representatives for the sheriff’s office could not be reached to respond to the claims.
According to his mother’s account, Charles left home the day before Halloween.
After being unable to get in touch with him for several hours law enforcement was contacted.
The sheriff’s office publicized that a body was found days later.
A graphic photograph of Charles’ body leaked online.
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 photo fueled speculation that the teen was somehow injured before his death.
Neither the authenticity of the photo or the timing of the injuries has been confirmed by law enforcement.
Detectives have said multiple people have been interviewed and evidence is being processed. Results from an autopsy ordered by law enforcement are still pending.
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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