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Quawan "Bobby" Charles

A toxicology report conducted in conjunction with an independent autopsy of Quawan "Bobby" Charles found no hallucinogens in the teen's system, which the family's attorneys say suggests his death was not accidental.

Low levels of THC and ethanol were the only substances found in the 15-year-old's body, according to a Dec. 2 toxicology report conducted by Erik Flail of Pennsylvania-based NMS Labs. The presence of those substances indicate that Charles likely used marijuana and alcohol prior to his death.

The toxicology findings, shared Tuesday by the family's attorneys, are significant because they suggest Charles was not significantly impaired at the time of his Oct. 30 disappearance.

Official toxicology results are still pending in the case.

The NMS report showed that Charles had a blood alcohol content of 0.014%, which is well below the 0.08% limit Louisiana has set for adults to be considered legally intoxicated. It's also significantly lower than 0.05%, which is the blood alcohol content a typical 120-pound male would have after one alcoholic beverage.

The report also found that Charles had a low level of THC, the main active ingredient in marijuana, of 4.7 nanograms per milliliter of blood. While adults with any amount of THC in their blood can face legal consequences in Louisiana, the limit for driving in Colorado, where marijuana use is legal, is 5 nanograms per milliliter. 

The toxicology report seems to debunk the theory that Charles was high on hallucinogenic mushrooms at the time of his death. That theory developed from a tip Charles' mom received from a mutual friend of the last known people seen with her son.

That theory might have explained how Charles could have drowned in the shallow sugarcane field in Iberia Parish where his body was discovered Nov. 3.

"This emphatically proves that they were lying in an attempt to cover up what happened to Quawan," said the family's attorneys in a statement issued Tuesday.

"Further, this likely proves that Quawan's death was not the result of an accident or gross negligence, but intentional."

Quawan 'Bobby' Charles' disappearance and death: What we know

Investigators continue to treat the case as a homicide, according to Katherine Breaux, spokesperson for the Iberia Parish Sheriff's Office.

"An arrest will not be made until all evidence has been gathered, including the toxicology," Breaux said Tuesday. "We want this to be solved and turned over to the district attorney's office just as much as the family does."

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The teen's disappearance and death gained widespread attention after his family shared a graphic photo that shows the mutilated face of a Black boy with several open skin wounds and disfigurement so severe to his lips that his teeth are visible.

The image, which the family says was taken while confirming the teen's identity to authorities, sparked outrage and protests over the handling of the case.

Charles was reported missing to the Baldwin Police Department on Oct. 30 after leaving his father's St. Mary Parish home earlier that day with a 17-year-old friend and the friend's mother. 

Deputies with the Iberia Parish Sheriff's Office discovered the teen's body Nov. 3 in a rural area near Loreauville. 

Preliminary findings of the family's independent autopsy in November echoed those from the official autopsy, with both suggesting Charles drowned.

Family's independent autopsy of Quawan 'Bobby' Charles echoes official account of death

Dr. Amy C. Gruszecki of the Texas-based American Forensics wrote in her report that the official "exam appears thorough" and the exam findings are "consistent with drowning." Her report also noted there was "no evidence of trauma or natural disease."

Iberia Parish Coroner Dr. Carl Ditch wrote "likely drowning" as Charles' cause of death in his preliminary report, noting that muddy water was found in the teen's sinuses and lungs, which were hyperinflated. Charles did not appear to have suffered injuries prior to his death, Ditch wrote, and injuries to his face likely happened in the water after he drowned.

The manner of death for both autopsy reports was pending toxicology results and a police investigation.

Attorneys Ron Haley, Chase Trichell, Dedrick A. Moore and Ryan Thompson have said they do not believe Charles drowned in a shallow sugarcane field without human intervention. 

They reiterated that point again on Tuesday, noting that the official cause of death raises more questions than answers because Charles could not have drowned in "ankle deep" water without foul play.

"If he did not drown in that sugarcane field, then additional questions must be answered," the attorneys wrote. "Where did he drown at? Why was he moved and dumped in the sugar cane field? And most importantly who was involved in his death and cover up?"

Family, activists demand justice for Quawan 'Bobby' Charles, Black teen found dead in rural Iberia Parish


Email Megan Wyatt at mwyatt@theadvocate.com.