A woman who reportedly was one of the last people to be seen with Quawan “Bobby” Charles, a Black teen who was found dead in a ditch near a sugar cane field in Loreauville, La., has been arrested in relation to the disturbing case.
According to KLFY News, the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office announced on Tuesday that 37-year-old Janet Irvin was arrested on the felony charge of failing to report a missing child, as well as a charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Irvin is the woman who Quawan’s family—through their own sleuthing—found out was allegedly seen driving with the 15-year-old, along with her own older teenage son, on the day Quawan went missing. The family told The Root they had never met the woman or her son. Quawan disappeared from his father’s home on Oct. 30, and his mutilated body was later found by police on Nov. 3, days after his family said they reported him missing to law enforcement.
Investigators hired by the family eventually made contact with Irvin, who admitted to them that she had picked up Quawan to “go hang out with her son,” but didn’t know what happened to him after that. CBS reports that the woman was also recorded telling a private investigator that the 15-year-old was at her home but then ran away.
“Yes, I should have called the cops. I should have went further,” a woman can be heard saying on the recording.
The family also alleged that Irvin’s son told a private investigator that he and Charles did drugs at Irvin’s home.
“Did he smoke something, or did he, I mean…?” the investigator can be heard asking.
“Yeah, he smoked some weed. That was it,” a man replied.
Irvin is now being held in jail without bond. The Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office says its investigation is ongoing and more arrests may follow.
Meanwhile, an autopsy report on Quawan prepared by the Louisiana Forensic Center says his cause of death was drowning but adds that it cannot be determined why or how he drowned.
“The uncertainties about whether this drowning represents an accidental, suicidal or homicidal death makes an undetermined manner of death most appropriate,” reads the report, which was released by the Charles family on Monday, according to KATC news.
The autopsy adds that injuries found on Quawan’s face were likely caused after his death by animals or insects.
An accompanying toxicology report found that THC and alcohol were detected in the child’s body and that he may have been hallucinating before his death. His family maintains there was foul play in the 15-year-old’s death.
“We will continue to fight, we will continue to advocate for Quawan’s family and we will work tirelessly in our pursuit of justice, transparency and accountability,” lawyers for the Charles family said in a statement responding to Irvin’s arrest.
Attorney Chase Trichell added that the family is encouraged by the arrest, though it took over 100 days for anyone to be charged in Quawan’s case and lawyers provided “ample evidence to authorities.”
“Today is a starting point, but this is a marathon and not a sprint,” Jamal Taylor of Stand Black, a local nonprofit that has been advocating for justice for Quawan, said in a statement on Irvin’s arrest. “Now we must mobilize to change laws that protect against these sorts of atrocities. We must pass legislation that protects children, and laws that reform police accountability.”
The Charles family previously called out the police for a lax response to Quawan’s case, pointing out that an Amber Alert was not issued when he was reported missing. The Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office says the initial missing report was made to the Baldwin Police Department and they weren’t notified until later.