What happened to Quawan Charles?

Natalie Bartelt, staff writer

When a child goes missing, the usual protocol is to send out an Amber Alert and do everything possible to find the child in a short matter of time. For Quawan Charles, this was not the case.  

Protests have broken out for 15-year-old Quawan Charles who was reported to be missing on October 30th in Louisiana when his father got into his room that had been locked from the inside and saw that Quawan was gone. His mother, Roxanne Nelson, rushed to contact authorities to help find her son after he did not answer her calls. According to an interview by The Root with the Charles’ family attorney, an officer did not quite take the situation seriously. “They told her things such as ‘Look, he’s probably at a football game; He’s probably with some friends.’ Basically, don’t worry about it.” 

On November 3rd, officials told the family Quawan was found dead in a creek nearby. They were also told that he appeared to have drowned and weren’t given much more information. Horrifying images of Quawan taken by his family after he died and strange gaps in the case have led them to believe this was more than a simple drowning circumstance. Spokesperson for the family Celia Charles told KATC, “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.” 

The photos, showing Quawan’s disfigured face, have gained media attention in regards to its similar qualities to those of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African-American boy who is well known to have been subject to a racist lynching in 1955. The family and thousands of others across social media have expressed that they believe if Qauwan were white, the situation would be handled differently.

Several reports to private investigators have revealed that Qauwan was last seen in a car with a woman and her teenage son. As also reported by investigators hired by the family, the mother of the teenager claimed she picked up Quawan to “go hang out with her son.” It has been noted that neither of Quawan’s parents know the mother or son, nor were they informed he would be picked up by them. Video evidence recently handed to police shows Quawan alone near the area he was found dead and a witness has attested to seeing him there as well.

Although the reaction and communication from law enforcement has been slow, the case is being investigated as a homicide. No arrests have been made yet and Quawan’s family have set up a GoFundMe to raise funds needed to perform a second autopsy in hope for more clear answers on what happened to him.