‘This Is A Modern Day Lynching’: Local NAACP, Family Demands Answers In Death Of Quawan Charles

(Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Brianna Lyman News and Commentary Writer
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15-year-old Quawan “Bobby” Charles of Louisiana went missing Oct. 30 and his disfigured body was found in a sugarcane field in Iberia Parish four days later. Now, his family and local leaders are demanding answers.

Charles was staying at his fathers house in Baldwin, Louisiana. The family’s attorney, Ken Haley, told the Daily Caller that Charles’ mother, Roxanne Nelson, had tried calling him on Oct. 30 but didn’t receive an answer. Nelson then called Charles’ father, who said Charles was probably sleeping.

However, after an unspecified amount of time, Charles’ father went to check on Charles, whose door was allegedly locked from the inside, according to Haley’s account.

Charles’ family then contacted the Baldwin Police Department to report that Charles was missing. Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Department, which covers Baldwin, dispatched officers to comb the area where Charles was last seen, checking out the local football game and other areas, according to Baldwin Assistant Chief of Police Samuel Wise.

The Baldwin Police Department did not file an Amber Alert, but instead filed a missing persons report that night that was supposedly sent out locally and nationwide, according to Wise. Wise told the Daily Caller they did not issue an Amber Alert because they had “no evidence to prove he was abducted” to warrant an alert.

Wise told the Daily Caller that rumors swirling on social media that alleged the police department didn’t take Charles’ disappearance seriously are unfounded.

“Being where I am in this community, I work and pastor in this community. The whole time I’ve been in the community it’s been about helping, and we’re trying to help young girls and boys and help them in the church, and for Facebook to assume that we’re turning against these kids, I’m not okay with that,” Wise said. (RELATED: Case Dropped After 4th Grader Faced Criminal Charges For BB gun In Room During Online Learning)

“I love this community, I would do whatever I can to bring justice if someone would just talk to me, but no one is coming to talk about this. Everyone is speculating and that is a problem,” he continued. “Investigations don’t happen overnight, but we are doing the best we could. We are trying to find out why this child left his house.”

According to Wise, Charles’ father initially said he didn’t know of anyone his son could be with. However, after Charles’ body was found a little more than 20 miles away near Loreauville, the father said Charles was friends with a 17-year-old and his mother who live in Loreauville. Alleged pictures of Charles’ body can be found here. (WARNING: GRAPHIC)

However, it is unclear when Charles’ family became aware of the claims that their son was with the 17-year-old and his mother since Haley told the Daily Caller an Amber Alert should have been issued after it was made clear that Charles was known to have left his home with an adult despite not having his parents permission to do so.

“[This] may not be the traditional kidnapping one would think,” Haley told the Daily Caller. He also said if the police were not going to issue an alert, they should have alerted local media that there was a missing child. Local outlets were allegedly not informed of Charles’ disappearance, per Haley.

Baton Rouge NAACP Leader Eugene Collins, who has been working with the family to seek answers, told the Daily Caller that an unidentified 17-year-old and his mother picked Charles up from his dad’s house and brought him to Loreauville.

Haley noted that it appeared, from recently deleted social media accounts, that Charles and the 17-year-old allegedly went to school together and were friendly.

Collins told the Daily Caller that Charles’ body was found naked, face down in a sugarcane field behind a trailer park where the unnamed mother and son lived. While Haley also confirmed this through private investigators hired by Charles’ family, Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Department and Baldwin Police Department will neither confirm nor deny this. However, the sheriff’s department did post to Facebook that a “male juvenile” was found “in a rural area adjacent to Ed Broussard Rd. near the village of Loreauville.” 

There are also rumors that Charles was said to have drowned, and Haley told the Daily Caller that while it’s not clear whether that’s true, an Iberia Sheriff allegedly mentioned to Charles’ family that there was some speculation he drowned.

Collins said Charles’ body was allegedly found near a creek, but said it was unlikely Charles’ cause of death was drowning since the nearby creek is apparently shallow.

Celina Charles, the spokesperson for the family told WBRZ that the family still has not been taken to the site where Charles’ body was found.

“They still have not shown us where Quawan was or what creek he was found at. We can’t even go and put up a cross where he was found at. They’re being very discreet,” she said.

Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Department will not speculate on his cause of death as the autopsy is not completed and takes 6-8 weeks according to Katherine Breaux, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s department.

Charles’ family is currently conducting an independent autopsy in Texas, according to Haley.

The Baldwin Police are not involved in the investigation regarding Charles’ death, but rather his disappearance, according to KATC.

However, all eyes are now on the 17-year-old and his mother and whether or not they were involved in the disappearance and death of Charles, according to Haley and Collins.

Private investigators reportedly have evidence showing the Loreauville residents packing up and leaving in the middle of the night sometime between Tuesday and Wednesday, according to Haley. They allegedly had a U-Haul. There are also rumors that the pair were high on mushrooms, a claim allegedly corroborated by the private investigators, according to Haley.

A phone call posted to Facebook allegedly details a conversation between Nelson and the mother of a boy who is supposedly friendly with the 17-year-old. Haley told the Caller that Nelson was one of the women speaking in the call.

The woman allegedly tells Nelson that the 17-year-old, his mother and a third unknown individual were high on mushrooms the night of Charles’ disappearance. The woman on the phone allegedly told Nelson that her son went to get into the 17-year-old’s family car and noted it smelled like bleach and was told he can’t smoke in the car because they “bleached it.”

The Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Department would neither confirm nor deny whether they were looking into the 17-year-old and his mother, nor whether they were aware or investigating the allegations that the pair bleached their car and disappeared in the middle of the night.

The police department posted to Facebook that the investigation into “the suspicious circumstances” surrounding Charles’ death is ongoing, and that investigators have “interviewed multiple individuals and collected physical evidence which is being processed.”

The police department would not confirm to the Daily Caller who or what was being investigated.

“They [Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Department] have been very coy and hush hush about a lot of this investigation,” Haley told the Daily Caller.

Collins told the Daily Caller that Charles’ race could have something to do with the lack of answers.

“Statistics prove that when black boys go missing, this country just doesn’t take it as serious, especially a 15-year-old black boy” Collins said.

“A young black boy is dying and disfigured and a white family can move in the middle of the night and not be stopped, that’s a lynching, because this country has lynched us in so many different ways,” Collins said. “I would agree with the characterization that this is a Modern day lynching.”

Haley echoed the sentiment, particularly noting tensions within Iberia Parish between law enforcement and the black community.

“I believe that there is systemic racism in law enforcement in general, but I do believe there are fractured race relations with that sheriff’s department [Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Department] in that community and that possibly could have played a role in how serious this had been taken in the beginning.”

In 2016, Iberia Parish made headlines after sheriff’s took to the stand in a federal Louisiana court room and testified to “brutal, racist scenes” that were occurring within the department, according to NBC. Sheriff’s in the department allegedly beat up two black men “for fun” and when Sheriff Louis Ackal found out, he said it was just “n****r knockin,” one of the other sheriff’s testified, per NBC. Ackal was acquitted of all charges.