Louisiana woman arrested in Black teen’s disappearance and death

'I hope this arrest begins to help this family heal, and by no means is this case closed,' Sheriff Tommy Romero says

A Louisiana woman was arrested Tuesday in connection with the disappearance and death late last year of a Black teen whose body was found days after he was reported missing.

Janet Irvin, 37, was jailed on charges of felony failure to report 15-year-old Quawan “Bobby” Charles missing and of contributing to juvenile delinquency, Sheriff Tommy Romero said in a news release and video statements.

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He said no bond has been set for Irvin, who was arrested in nearby Lafayette Parish and then moved to the Iberia Parish jail. Deputy Kathleen Breaux, a spokeswoman for Romero, said she did not know whether Irvin has an attorney who could speak for her.

“I hope this arrest begins to help this family heal, and by no means is this case closed,” Romero said in a news release on video.

Four attorneys for Charles’ family said, “We are thankful that she is finally being held criminally responsible.”

This photo provided by the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office, in New Iberia, Louisiana, shows Janet Irvin. (Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office via AP)

The family filed a missing persons report Oct. 30 in the St. Mary Parish town of Baldwin. The teen’s body — which an autopsy report described as unclothed — was found the evening of Nov. 3 about 20 miles (32 kilometers) away in woods near the Iberia Parish town of Loreauville.

Two autopsies, one for the family and the other for the Iberia Parish Coroner’s Office, found small amounts of alcohol and THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, in his blood.

The attorneys provided a copy of the report made for the coroner. It said Charles might have drowned himself during a psychotic episode possibly brought on by marijuana.

The autopsy said in part, “Reportedly he had been at a residence where drugs were consumed including possible marijuana (THC) and psilocybin mushrooms. Reportedly after smoking a substance the decedent passed out and when he awoke he became combative. Reportedly he said he was ‘going to kill himself’.”

Tests didn’t detect any psilocybin, according to that report. Although the family’s autopsy is not yet complete, its toxicology report had the same findings for drugs and alcohol, attorney Ron Haley said.

The report to the coroner said another witness reportedly saw Charles crawling in culverts behind a school, and quoted autopsy witnesses as saying surveillance video showed him alone near the area where his body was found.

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Although the report said Charles’ body was found submerged in a ditch, the attorneys said in their statement about it that he died in far shallower water.

“It is well understood that the accidental drowning of an able-bodied person in ankle-deep water is nearly impossible,” they wrote.

In their statement about Irvin’s arrest, the lawyers said she was arrested after sheriffs deputies met with their private investigator to exchange notes.

“We are thankful that the fruits of this meeting led to an arrest of Ms. Irvin, but this is only the first step in a long march towards justice for Quawan,” they said.

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