While investigators work to determine how a 12-year-old Paulding County boy died, his mother tried Tuesday to get custody of the boy’s sister.
The children’s father, Shayaa Yusef Forbes, has been charged with felony child cruelty.
But since neither parent had an attorney present, a judge delayed a hearing Tuesday between Ashlei Majors and Shayaa Forbes, meaning the elementary-school-age girl will remain in state custody.
“We’re just trying to focus on getting Erica home,” Majors told Channel 2 Action News outside the Paulding County Courthouse. “I’m very hurt.”
Both Eric Forbes and his younger sister lived with their father, 32-year-old Shayaa Forbes, in a quiet cul-de-sac near Dallas until police and paramedics were called to the home Friday night. Emergency responders arrived to find the boy unconscious and unable to be revived. He died after being transported to the hospital, police said.
The McClure Middle School sixth-grader showed what appeared to be extensive signs of physical abuse, said Cpl. Ashley Henson with the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office. But a cause of death has not been determined.
“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.
His sister, Erica Forbes, was removed from the home that night and placed in protective custody. Her father, who has no known criminal history, was arrested, Henson said.
The GBI conducted an autopsy on Eric Forbes but did not determine a cause of death pending additional analysis, spokeswoman Sherry Lang told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Paulding coroner Samuel Clark said Tuesday afternoon that it was uncertain which of Eric’s family members would receive his body when authorities released it.
Neighbor Ashlee Smith told Channel 2 she never saw signs of abuse at the Forbes home.
“I just can’t imagine doing anything to them kids like that,” Smith said.
The boy’s death remains under investigation.