NEW IBERIA, La. — The Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office has released more information about the arrest of a woman in connection with the death of Quawan Charles.
Janet Irvin, 37, has been booked with contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile and failing to report a missing child. If convicted on the contributing charge, she faces up to six months in jail. If convicted on the failure to report charge, she faces up to two years in jail. The failure to report charge makes it a crime for the caretaker of a child over 13 years of age to fail to report them missing after 24 hours.
Here's what the sheriff's office had to say today:
On Nov. 5, 2020, the Iberia Parish Sheriff's Office issued a press release regarding the death of the juvenile Quawan Charles. Charles was reported missing on Oct. 30, 2020, to the Baldwin Police Department in Baldwin in St. Mary Parish at 8:04 p.m, a release states.
"Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office was not notified of a missing juvenile in Iberia Parish until November 3rd at approximately 2:15pm, when IPSO was contacted by Quawan Charles’ mother, Roxanne Nelson," a release states.
"At that time, IPSO deputies requested the wireless provider 'ping' Quawan’s cell phone. On November 3, 2020, at 6:43pm, the body of Quawan Charles was located in a drainage ditch along the headland, in a sugar cane field adjacent to Ed. Broussard Rd. near the Village of Loreauville, in Iberia Parish," the report states.
The autopsy found that Charles had drugs in his system and had drowned. To read about that, click here.
"IPSO Bureau of Investigations conducted extensive interviews with numerous individuals, collected forensic evidence, and along with the completed autopsy report it was determined" that Irvin should be booked with the two counts, the release states.
"Ms. Irvin was arrested in Lafayette parish with assistance of Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office and booked into the Lafayette Parish Correctional Facility. Janet Irvin was then released to the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office Detectives and booked into the Iberia Parish Jail. Bond has not been set at this time," the release states. "This case continues to be an ongoing investigation and more arrest may follow."
Earlier today, we reported that the family had announced Irvin's arrest.
Irvin, 37, was booked into the Lafayette Parish jail first on a hold for Iberia Parish, records show. Then she was booked into the Iberia Parish jail. Initially, the records indicate she was booked with contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile and giving false reports about a missing child, records show.
About an hour later, the false report charge had disappeared and only the contributing charge was listed in jail records. That's the only charge that shows up in Iberia jail records as of 4 p.m. Irvin is being held in the Iberia Parish jail with no bond set as yet.
Irvin is the woman that Quawan Charles' family says he left with when he disappeared from his father's Baldwin home. The family and their attorneys have complained that she has not been arrested, and have maintained that Charles' death was a "homicide."
Charles' family member posted a Facebook live Tuesday celebrating Irvin's arrest.
Celina Charles, Quawan's cousin, tells KATC, "Today is the day that justice has been served. I mean, we have some ways to go. She has to be charged and convicted. But this is a start. She is arrested."
Lafayette activist group Stand Black issued a statement on Irvin's arrest, saying it was a start but took too long.
“Today is a starting point, but this is a marathon and not a sprint. 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. Our organization, and the Charles family, is committed to putting forth a package of legislation that protects children, our community, and our state,” said Jamal Taylor, Co-Founder of Stand Black.
Ron Haley, who is representing the Charles family, tells KATC that the arrest is the first step to get justice, and that the investigation is far from over.
"I thought from the very beginning, at least after the first week of him missing, it was obvious that there was more than a probable cause for Janet Irvin's arrest at that time," Haley said. "There is a finite group of people who know what happened to Quawan. We have given those people over to the sheriff after our own investigation. Let's hope they continue to focus."
According to court records, Irvin was charged with simple burglary of a building in June 2011.
In November of that year, Irvin pled guilty to a lesser charge of criminal trespassing and was sentenced to serve 30 days in jail, which was suspended. She was given 12 months of supervised probation for the misdemeanor charge and had to pay $323.50 in court costs and fines.
Records show that Irvin was also charged in April 2019 with one count of possessing synthetic marijuana and one count of possessing drug paraphernalia, which are both misdemeanors. She has a court hearing set for April 19, 2021.
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