The family of 15-year-old Quawan ‘Bobby’ Charles is still seeking answers after their son’s body was found in a rural area in Loreauville, Lousiana. According to Baldwin police, Quawan had drowned, but gruesome photos taken by the family seem to tell a different story, and now the family is seeking an independent autopsy.
On October 30, Quawan left his father’s home without permission with a 17-year-old friend and his friend’s mother. That night the family said they reported him missing after multiple attempts to reach him by phone were unsuccessful.
Three days later, on November 3, his body was found. That night his father, Kenneth Jacko was notified, but his mother, Roxanne Nelson, wasn’t notified until the next day. The family says that since that day, none of their questions have been answered.
Celina Charles, a cousin of Quawan’s, said, “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, “It’s almost as though they tried to sweep this under the rug.” She added, “We not only feel like the family has been let down but the community, the public, the media. Everybody has questions, not only the family. He was only 15. It could have been anybody’s child.”
After the three days of searching, information was given to the police department that one of Quawan’s friends had last seen the teenager in the car with a white lady and her teenage son.
According to The Root, the family shared with them a recording of an anonymous woman who called Roxanne Nelson with information that the mother who allegedly picked up Quawan may know more than she led on.
The caller claimed that she randomly confronted her son about his unusual behavior, and he revealed that something had been “eating him up.” Allegedly, the white family who picked up Quawan may have been high on mushrooms, and the son reported that the car smelled like bleach. He also admitted to being introduced to Quawan on the day he went missing.
The case has since been passed along to the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Department, neither of which answered The Root’s requests for comment. They also haven’t answered most of the Charles family’s questions either.
For example, when Celina contacted the media to let them know that they were holding a community vigil for Quawan, the local news outlets replied: “What missing child?”
The Root spoke to two nearby news outlets, and both acknowledged that they hadn’t received an Amber Alert or a media request from police when Quawan went missing. In fact, the only information they had received about the case was after Quawan’s body had been found. And the family, the media, and the press release all received different dates for when they discovered his body.
Many Black activists have issued statements asking why an Amber Alert was never issued by the Baldwin Police Department and demanding transparency in the investigation. Some activists are comparing his death to a modern-day lynching.
Local activist Jamaal Taylor said, “We have dealt with several of these cases, and each of them involve some sort of policing that has caused irreparable harm, loss of life, injury to an individual.” He added, “The problem is, when these police officers see our children, they don’t see theirs.”
Taylor’s organization, Stand Black, was contacted by the family and was the first to bring attention to Quawan’s case. They partly blame the police for the indifference in Charles’s family’s loss, explaining that this is a literal example of Black lives not mattering to law enforcement.
He told The Root, “If Quawan was a little white girl, Louisiana would be turned upside down right now trying to figure out what happened.” He said, “We want the officers involved that took no action placed on leave. We need an investigation into what happened and why they failed to issue an Amber alert at the time of the report of this young man going missing. And, more importantly, why they blew it off and told the parents to go look for the child at a football game.”
Civil rights attorney Chase Trichell told The Root, “We just want to know what happened.” He said, “No one has been arrested. They won’t even say if they have suspects. Even if the Iberia Sheriff doesn’t have answers, at least they can tell us where to start asking questions.”
So far, no one has been arrested or charged in Quawan Charles’ death. The Baldwin Police Department admits to handling the missing person case while the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office is handling the rest of the investigation. Katherine Breaux, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office, told The Advocate his parents were “aware that he went to someone’s house in Loreauville.”
They were not.
Instead, the family is left with several questions:
- When did Quawan die?
- What was the cause of his death?
- Exactly where did authorities find his body?
- How did he end up in a creek? (The family told The Root that Quawan could not swim.)
- Was he still alive during the family’s search?
- Why didn’t the Baldwin Police Department alert the media?
“They will not tell us anything, Celina Charles added. “If they talked to the family last seen with Quawan, they hadn’t told us anything. We don’t know how they found Quawan. Was he naked, or was he dressed? Did he have his phone on him? All we know is that they found him face down in a creek in a field. We don’t know what happened.”
“I mean…that’s all we got right now,” she said, before quietly adding: “Knowing is all we got.”