Authorities still investigating circumstances surrounding teen's apparent drowning death
BATON ROUGE – Authorities are still investigating the apparent drowning death of a 15-year-old found dead in a rural area of south-central Louisiana earlier this month.
The latest results from an independent, out-of-state autopsy authorized by Quawan Charles' family did not offer any further insight into his death. The examination showed "no evidence of trauma or natural disease" but did not determine the manner of his death, according to the report released Monday.
Iberia Parish Coroner Carl Ditch and his office previously wrote in a Nov. 13 autopsy that Charles likely drowned and that muddy water was found in his airways. The coroner made a point to note it appeared no injuries were sustained before death.
Though the coroner's report suggests drowning, both say the manner of death is still pending toxicology and other test results.
The reports came after the teenager’s parents pushed for more transparency in the death investigation. Charles was found dead Nov. 3 after being reported missing on Oct. 30. His family said he was last seen leaving home without permission with two people, a 17-year-old friend and the friend’s mother.
Charles was later found dead in a cane field in the small community of Loreauville, south of Lafayette, between New Iberia and Morgan City. Fields have water drainage ditches cut through crops.
His family’s concern over his disappearance and death have been fueled by a gruesome image showing the teen’s face severely disfigured.
In the coroner’s report released last week, officials claimed the disfigurement was a result of the autopsy procedure or “animal activity from the decedent being found in water.”
Sheriff's deputies in Iberia Parish, where the teen was found, have labeled the death suspicious.
Evidence being examined by the sheriff's office includes surveillance video of the area where Charles was found dead. Authorities say the footage shows Charles walking around the area where he was later found dead. They say no other person was in seen in the video until his body was discovered.
"We have obtained and reviewed video evidence showing Quawan “Bobby” Charles near that area. Video evidence indicates no other individuals present with Quawan “Bobby” Charles or anyone else present for some time before, or after, he is seen on the recording," IPSO saidin a statement Saturday.
The Iberia Parish Sheriff's Office says the case remains under investigation and is the department's highest priority.
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