Father charged with murder claimed boy drowned

Late Friday night, a Paulding County father told a 911 operator his 12-year-old son had drowned in the bathtub. On Wednesday, the same father was charged with murder.

Shayaa Yusef Forbes, 32, made a frantic call to 911 shortly before 10 p.m. Friday.

“I thought he was in the tub, but when I went in to try and see him…,” Forbes told an operator, heard in the 911 recording obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He was a little bit underwater. His head was, like, bobbing.”

When emergency responders arrived at the family's home near Acworth, they found 12-year-old Eric Forbes unconscious, according to Cpl. Ashley Henson with the Paulding County Sheriff's Office. The sixth grader at McClure Middle School also had physical signs of severe child abuse, Henson said.

Eric died late Friday after being transported to the hospital. His father was arrested.

Forbes initially was charged with felony child cruelty. But an autopsy conducted by the GBI ruled Eric’s death a homicide, leading deputies to upgrade charges against his father to include murder and an additional child cruelty charge. A cause of death was not released, pending the results of additional testing.

Investigators have not released details about what they believe happened Friday night in the home, located on North Springs Drive, off Cedarcrest Road. But the child showed signs of repeated abuse, Henson said.

“The male juvenile, who had multiple bruises, bite marks, lacerations, and other marks that are consistent with physical abuse, appeared to have endured abuse for quite some time,” Henson said in an emailed statement Monday.

Eric's younger sister, Erica, has remained in state Division of Family and Children Services custody since Friday night, according to police. On Tuesday, the children's mother, Ashlei Majors, attempted to get custody of Erica. But because neither Majors nor Forbes had an attorney present, a Paulding judge delayed the hearing.

Forbes was denied bond at a court appearance Wednesday. He remained in the Paulding jail Wednesday night.

A community fundraiser to gather money for Eric’s burial will be held Thursday night at Crossroads Neighborhood Grille, near Dallas. Another restaurant in the area, Cedarcrest Pizza Shack, will donate a portion of Thursday proceeds to the fund. Contributions also can be made to the Eric Forbes Memorial Fund at Wells Fargo branches.