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‘Suspicious’ circumstances around Black teen found dead in Louisiana

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Young Quawan Charles is seen here in this undated family photo. (Quawan Charles’ family)By VICTORIA MOLL-RAMIREZ, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — As the rural Louisiana town of Baldwin mourns the death of Quawan “Bobby” Charles, the family of the teenage boy is demanding answers.

“We believe that if he had been of a different color that this will be taken a lot more seriously,” the family’s attorney, Ronald Haley, told ABC News. “We [would] not be talking today about 13 days have gone by, with no leads, 13 days have gone by with no answer, 13 days have gone by without [the] official cause of death… This family deserves that Bobby will be laid to rest.”

The 15-year-old vanished from his home on Oct. 30. Days later, the family said his body was found in a sugarcane field about 20 miles away, in Iberia Parish.

What happened between when his body was found and the day he went missing is still under investigation.

Though the autopsy report has not yet been released, a graphic photo of Charles’ body has been circulating online.

“On the left side of his face there is like a knot,” Charles’ cousin Celina Chase told ABC News, describing the photo. “On the right side, there’s like an incision, and then around his mouth area, like the majority of his lips is gone, like he has been tortured.”

The medical examiner’s office said a full report can take up to 12 weeks, yet the local sheriff’s department has already deemed the circumstances around his death “suspicious.”

They said they have interviewed multiple individuals and are combing through physical evidence related to the case.

“I’m a parent myself. I would be concerned about the death of my child,” Iberia Parish Sheriff Thomas S. Romero told ABC News affiliate WBR-TVZ. “Emotions run deep, but we have to deal with facts, and it takes time for some of this evidence to come forward, for toxicology to come back.”

The ACLU is demanding a full, independent investigation into Charles’ death.

“The disrespect and lack of transparency demonstrated by local officials in response to Bobby’s tragic and suspicious death is unacceptable,” Alanah Odoms Hebert of ACLU of Louisiana, said in a statement. “We join the family in demanding a full and transparent investigation into the circumstances surrounding Bobby’s death.”

The Sheriff’s department said it is providing the family with updates on the case and is urging anyone with information to call Detective Jarred Spurlock of the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office, Bureau of Investigation at 337-369-3711.

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