The Black Lives Matter protests and the killing of George Floyd have reawakened interest in the mysterious death of Tamla Horsford, a black woman from Georgia who died during an adult slumber party in 2018. The attorney representing the victim's family now alleges she was murdered after reviewing the case and finding "substantial" evidence that points to "homicide."
According to Forsyth County Sheriff's Office, on November 3, 2018, Horsford, 40, attended an overnight birthday party with seven white women and three white men in Forsyth County, Georgia. They drank "heavily," watched football and played Cards Against Humanity.
Tamla Horsford's Death
While others retired to bed, Horsford went out to the home's back deck at around 2 am to smoke a cigarette, according to witnesses. Horsford was found dead the next morning under the deck in the residence's backyard.
Investigators found Horsford with severe injuries to her head, neck, and torso as well as cuts to her face, wrist, hand, and lower legs, in addition to a "laceration to the right ventricle" of her heart. Her death was ruled as accidental, from an apparent fall from the deck, and no foul play was suspected.
Even the autopsy report went along with the narrative that she fell from the porch and died upon impact. However, public speculation grew after it was later revealed that the homeowner and other attendees of the party had strong ties with law enforcement. Moreover, one of the persons at the party, Jose Barrera, was fired from his position as a pretrial services employee at the Forsyth County Courthouse after leaking "confidential" information related to the investigation to other individuals.
Evidence of Homicide
Last week, Ralph Fernandez, the family's attorney, wrote an explosive letter saying that an independent investigation conducted by him "reflects that homicide is a strong possibility."
"It appears Tamla was involved in a struggle. There were abrasions consistent with that scenario. There were parallel scratches to one arm. Since they were fresh, photos would not have proven recent use of defensive force," the letter, read. "There was one X-ray, yet the injury noted as the cause of death appears nowhere."
Fernandez cited conflicting witness statements, a tampered crime scene, mishandled evidence and "unheard of" absence of autopsy photos. "Witness statements are in conflict. A potential subject handled the body as well as the evidence prior to law enforcement arriving. Evidence was disposed of and no inquiry followed. The scene was not preserved," the letter continued. "A remarkable fact is that there were no photographs taken during the autopsy of Tamla's body. This had to have been done at someone's directive because such a practice is unheard of."
Petition to Reopen the Case
The Forsyth County Sheriff's Office says they have completed a thorough investigation, but welcome any new information from the family's attorney. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation says photographs were taken of Horsford's body and they stand behind their original findings.
However, Horsford's family members and friends are urging authorities to reopen the investigation into her death. An online Change.org petition to reopen the case has amassed more than 535,000 signatures.