Crime & Courts

Richmond Co. | Columbia Co. | Aiken Co. |

Autopsy finds boy's drowning accidental

Child's mother, community still want answers

Monday, June 17, 2013 9:07 PM
Last updated Tuesday, June 18, 2013 7:41 AM
  • Follow Latest News

The results of a state autopsy released Monday officially closed the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office’s investigation into the drowning of an 8-year-old Hephzibah boy, but the child’s grieving mother and neighbors are still demanding answers and say the case is “incomplete.”

Back | Next
Jeannette Stevens, mother of Jon Stevens, says she wants the truth about the case.  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
Jeannette Stevens, mother of Jon Stevens, says she wants the truth about the case.

According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Jon Stevens, a second-grade student from McBean Elementary School, “accidentally drowned” on April 13, while cleaning an in-ground pool off Hunters Mill Court in Hephzibah.

Although the report remains unofficial until approved by Richmond County Coroner Grover Tuten, local officials said the state medical examiner’s findings likely will hold, despite concerns by the child’s mother, the Hephzibah community and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference about how the case has been handled.

“Our investigation is complete and we have no reason to believe that any foul play was involved,” Lt. Calvin Chew, spokesman for the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, said in a statement. “No additional witnesses have come forward with any information that would lead us to believe that this was anything more than a tragic accident.”

Some Hunters Mill residents sent a letter to Sheriff Richard Roundtree on Monday, asking him to meet with them so they could give their statements, “since nobody ever questioned us,” said Kelli Miller Pierson, of the neighborhood.

Jeannette Stevens, the boy’s mother, said a Sponge­Bob SquarePants T-shirt he was wearing when he drowned was seized as evidence last week, two months after his death.

“The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office said their investigation is complete, but they really have not had an investigation,” Stevens said. “They have not subpoenaed evidence. They have not conducted follow-up interviews to corroborate stories. There is too much suspicion surrounding this case to close it.”

Stevens said the timing of the investigation also does not “add up.” Sheriff’s deputies waited four hours after Stevens reported her son missing at 9 p.m. to search the pool in which he was last seen, despite surveillance video and eyewitness accounts confirming that Jon entered the shallow end of the pool about 7:30 p.m. to gather debris in the water.

Ashley Pletcher, the investigator assigned to the case by the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, said deputies “assumed” Jon was in the pool, but opted to search the neighborhood and Stevens’ house to confirm the child had not been abducted.

A dive team was not called until 1 a.m. Jon was pulled from the pool’s deep end.

Stevens said the delay does not sit well with her, and she wants the truth.

Pletcher said all witness statements were consistent and Tuten said he felt the investigation’s findings were solid.

“If the state medical examiner determined the drowning was accidental and the sheriff’s office believes there was no foul play involved, I’d probably go with accidental drowning,” Tuten said. “But right now, the case is pending review.”

Comments (34) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Little Lamb
45281
Points
Little Lamb 06/17/13 - 11:02 pm
12
2
Tragic for the family . . .

. . . but sometimes you’ve just got to let it go.

fedex227
11168
Points
fedex227 06/17/13 - 11:37 pm
16
3
Huh? I'm totally confused.
Unpublished

"A second-grade student from McBean ElementarySchool accidentally drowned on April 13, while cleaning an in-ground pool."

"Jon entered the shallow end of the pool about 7:30 p.m. to gather debris in the water."

"Jeanette Stevens reported her son missing at 9 p.m. to search the pool in which he was last seen."

What the heck was an unsupervised 8-year old doing cleaning a pool at 7:30pm, a precious baby who wasn't reported missing until 9:00pm?? Lawsuit? Are you kidding me? How about arresting the mother for neglect and contributing to the death of a child- a sweet innocent. (If there's more to the story other than that which is being reported in this article then I might be mistaken in my assumptions- and for that I apologize.)

itsanotherday1
41948
Points
itsanotherday1 06/18/13 - 12:07 am
13
0
I understand her feelings

I understand her feelings about not searching the pool immediately, but in the eyes of the officials that was time wasted they could spend on searching for him in places he could still have been alive in. They knew that if he was in that pool, retrieving him now or later would not matter.

myfather15
54180
Points
myfather15 06/18/13 - 05:29 am
12
4
Wow!!

I believe Fedex and I are on the same page, for once. Sorry, but some of my sympathy goes out the window when this woman is running around "Demanding" answers and blaming everyone else. You have questions and want answers? Go look in the mirror and asked as many questions as you want; but you might not like the answers.

I have a daughter who will be 8 in September and I'll be darned if she will get anywhere near a pool unsupervised. I really do believe this investigation SHOULD expand to include neglect by the mother; at least from the information on this article and previous.

Was the pool not maintenanced very often? Was the pool water extremely dark, therefore LE officer couldn't see it it at all? An 8 year old preforming maintenance on a pool? Sounds more like an 8 year old playing by the pool and reaching in to grab some debris he seen. It also sounds like someone wasn't watching very closely.

Dixieman
14367
Points
Dixieman 06/18/13 - 06:15 am
11
3
Playin' the race card

will not help this family or the poor child. Let it go.

nocnoc
41122
Points
nocnoc 06/18/13 - 06:57 am
18
0
Negligence vs. Foul Play

Negligence YES
Lawsuit YES
Murder or a deliberate attempt to harm the child NO.

Having cleaned more than 1 pool in my life that had an algae slick bottom. I can attest to how extremely easy it is to slip and bust your butt and slide under and into the deep end.

We already know the pool was dark and murky,
We already know the pool was so dirty it took a dive team to locate the child in it.

Cold water with leaves makes it a challenge to float up even with some adult instilled maturity vs. a child's natural panic.

I support the reported actions and reasoning of the RCSO investigator. If I were told a child went missing 2+ hours ago, I too would have worked the assumption the child is alive/lost/abducted and canvas the area.

Because, if the child was in the pool, and as cold as it sounds, it would make no difference the child was already dead. But if abducted, every second counts because many abducted kids die within hours of the abduction.

While I feel for any mother that has lost a child.
I also feel, this case is no longer being driven "primarily" by grief.

scoobynews
3826
Points
scoobynews 06/18/13 - 07:34 am
11
2
Myfather15

This should really blow your mind according to previous articles about the drowning the boy could not swim. I said the same thing on a previous article siting concern at why a small boy was not seen by his mom since 3 pm and it was not until 9 pm that he was reported missing!! I would never let a child that young be out roaming the neighborhood and he certainly would not be be near any pool without me there with him. Tragic case of neglect if you ask me not foul play.

lawyerdude
29
Points
lawyerdude 06/18/13 - 07:44 am
13
0
And the moral of this story

And the moral of this story is: Teach your children how to swim at a very early age.

GiantsAllDay
9378
Points
GiantsAllDay 06/18/13 - 07:52 am
8
0
My father15 and myself don't

My father15 and myself don't always agree, but in this case we do. This morning I will bow my head in remembrance of this child.

LillyfromtheMills
12891
Points
LillyfromtheMills 06/18/13 - 07:56 am
7
0
I would have been

The 1st one in the pool looking for my dear child-but for the grace of God, go I. So sad.

allhans
23524
Points
allhans 06/18/13 - 08:14 am
8
1
With no eye witness the

With no eye witness the mother will never know "why'.
The age old question that is asked after every loss we suffer. "WHY?"
I agree with other.....It is time.

InChristLove
22459
Points
InChristLove 06/18/13 - 09:45 am
5
1
My heart goes out to this

My heart goes out to this mother in the loss of her son. I can not even imagine the sorrow and may God give her comfort.

That being said, there are a number of inconsistent statements concerning this accident. Statements from other articles:

* Jeanette Stevens, who told deputies her son had been swimming with friends at a neighbor’s house at 4610 Hunter’s Mill Court, but had not been seen for several hours.

I thought the child could not swim so why would the mother say he had been swimming with friends?

* Jon Stevens, a black child weighing 64 pounds and wearing only red and white swim trunks and no shoes, was last seen earlier in the day in the 4600 block of Hunters Mill Court, Hephzibah.

If he did not know how to swim, why was he wearing swim trunks and in this current article it's states a Sponge­Bob SquarePants T-shirt he was wearing when he drowned was seized as evidence last week, two months after his death." Article stated he was only wearing swiming trunks and shoes, no shirt is mentioned.

Some of the details do not add up but I feel that this was just a horrible accident where enough adult supervision was not present.

allhans
23524
Points
allhans 06/18/13 - 10:00 am
7
0
It is hard to imagine any

It is hard to imagine any scenario where kids would be in such a dirty pool. An 8 year wouldn't be cleaning a pool (which is one report), it would take much more expertise than he would have, and certainly the owners would close it until it was fit for use.

CobaltGeorge
155163
Points
CobaltGeorge 06/18/13 - 10:57 am
4
1
Not Supporting Any Neglected Action Of Anybody Involved,

but I feel this human is going to be sentence to Life without a possibility of parole. I think we should all become a hung jury because all the fact are not really known. IMO.

karradur
2848
Points
karradur 06/18/13 - 11:30 am
5
0
Wait, wait, wait.

Whose pool was it?

Darby
25010
Points
Darby 06/18/13 - 11:41 am
10
0
As opinionated as I tend to be at times,

I'm gonna opt out on this one. Far too much that I don't know and will almost certainly never know.

I'll have to trust the judgment of others who have the best information.

I will say that I'd never let my small child out of my sight unless I completely trusted and had faith in those responsible to watch him. Even then, I would worry.

I think my now grown son still harbors a bit of resentment because I wouldn't allow him to go on a fishing trip with another thirteen year old.

It was a tough choice, particularly since I had much more freedom at his age than I allowed him. But I did what I felt I had to do, based on my knowledge of my son and the situation at that time.

Each parent has to make those decisions. There is no "one size fits all" plan for raising kids.

americafirst
965
Points
americafirst 06/18/13 - 11:49 am
8
0
I have read several articles

I have read several articles about this tragic event but I have yet to read where the mother or anyone else has given any possible basis for any conclusion other than it was an accidental drowning. Why does she think otherwise? Have I missed something?

EMS4411
50
Points
EMS4411 06/18/13 - 12:06 pm
6
2
americafirst The mother

americafirst

The mother does want to except blame for something she caused !!! That is why America has become a blame everyone else but thy self for tragedies like this

Fiat_Lux
15066
Points
Fiat_Lux 06/18/13 - 12:06 pm
4
0
And the prize goes to AmericaFirst.

What possible motive is she ascribing to someone, and who does she think did this? Does she have something in mind or is this just projection from a heartbroken sense of guilt?

The only possible option that I see is that the mother might be contemplating sueing the ever-living daylights out of the homeowner responsible for the pool. Any pool owner is responsible to make sure their pool is secure and safe at all times, which clearly was not the case on that day. Wrongful death opens the door to placing the blame squarely on someone else, and potentially getting a whole lot of money out of the tragedy to boot.

I'm inclined to believe the mother is far less interested in the money than in having this awfulness judged to be a wrongful death.

TrulyWorried
13304
Points
TrulyWorried 06/18/13 - 12:11 pm
7
0
Tragic drowning

And I hope that the SCLC will not get involved and cause more misery than there is already. They only show up when it is to their advantage and I consider this cruel and self serving.

Sweet son
10053
Points
Sweet son 06/18/13 - 12:59 pm
7
1
The only reason the SCLC, NAACP and other organizations

of this type show up is to collect a little camera time and folding money! This appears to be a tragic accident that should not have happened if mom had been paying attention. She should be feeling guilty so she is trying to transfer blame away from herself.

jdsgirl63
2227
Points
jdsgirl63 06/18/13 - 01:46 pm
3
2
If I recall correctly...

but my recollection can be fuzzy.... wasn't the little boy in that yard with teenage neighbors who were attempting to clean up the pool? Wasn't it dark, or very close to it, at 7:30pm on April 13th? Didn't the mother state that her son was afraid of the water? I thought I'd read the mother was at work and the little boy's siblings knew he went to visit the neighbors, it wasn't an unusual occurrence... the mom came home and wanted to know where the boy was and that's what sent alarm bells ringing.

I think it's a terrible accident, I can't imagine her heartache and grief, and I'd like to believe she's searching for an answer to her sons senseless death, not a pay day.

Loribishop
7
Points
Loribishop 06/18/13 - 02:23 pm
3
2
It's terrible how stones are

It's terrible how stones are being thrown at this woman who believes there was fowl play involved. He was 8 not 3. How many of you yourselves live in neighborhoods you believe to be safe enough for your child to go out and return home as he has done so many times before. He was not wearing swimming trunks, and she did not send him to someone's home to swim unsupervised. She believes he was abducted and thrown into the pool to cover up a murder. And for all you saints that claim she was being neglectful..hope none of your 8 year olds don't ride a bike down the street in your "safe" neighborhood, and turn up missing suspiciously!! Kids are abducted every year from their own neighborhoods, she simply wants closure. And no one knows their own children better..if she says she doesn't believe her son would go playing in a dirty muddy pool, then I believe her!!

InChristLove
22459
Points
InChristLove 06/18/13 - 02:56 pm
8
0
I find it amazing that there

I find it amazing that there are those who feel an 8 years old is old enough to wander the streets unsupervised whether you feel the neighborhood is safe or not. (No neighborhood is safe).

Yes he was 8 not 3 but still (IMO) too young to be riding up and down the street on a bike without remaining in sight of a responsible adult's eye sight, too young to be going out among the neighborhood by himself, and definitely too young to be allowed to roam the neighborhood while the mother is working to return on his own. How old are/is the siblings/sibling who allowed him to visit his friends.

Your statement "Kids are abducted every year" is the exact reason why this child (yes CHILD) should never have been out wandering the neighborhood by himself.

You stated he was not wearing swimming trunks but according to the original article it states that he was wearing red and white swim trunks and by his mother's own statement "Jeanette Stevens, who told deputies her son had been swimming with friends at a neighbor’s house..." Statement was taken from a previous article.

fishman960
1444
Points
fishman960 06/18/13 - 02:58 pm
5
0
Seems like

We will never know exactly what happened to this child and I feel for anyone that loses their child. I would be shouting from the rooftops myself. I Pray the mother finds closure in the future, but really I know she never will.

InChristLove
22459
Points
InChristLove 06/18/13 - 03:03 pm
4
0
fishman960, you are probably

fishman960, you are probably right and how does anyone ever find closure from the lost of a child. I think you just learn to survive each day and go on with life.

corgimom
31145
Points
corgimom 06/18/13 - 03:45 pm
6
0
Just about every child I have

Just about every child I have ever known- especially boys- love to play in water. The sad part is that it only takes 3-5 minutes to drown, by the time the police were called, it was too late. He had already died.

There is nothing wrong with letting an 8 year old play in their neighborhood. The mother had no idea that he would go play in the pool, she thought that he was afraid of water. Kids, especially boys, are well-known for doing impulsive things that they don't normally do. By all accounts, he was a good kid, no one will ever know why he decided to play in the water- but kids have a way of doing things when influenced by, or copying, older children- even when they know they aren't supposed to do something.

The mother desperately wants to find someone to blame other than the child or herself, because her grief is overwhelming. She wants someone punished for this, when there isn't anybody to punish. This was just a terrible accident that she could not foresee.

I hope that in time she will forgive herself and move forward with her life, no child would ever want their mother to grieve and be unhappy.

ICYUNVme
10
Points
ICYUNVme 06/18/13 - 04:32 pm
3
10
Facts, Facts, Facts!!!

You people really need to get facts before you start passing judgement on something or someone! Information published is that which is seeked out and mostly he say she say. We're you there? Are you the parent of this child? Do you even know thus child? No, so find out FACTS before you start voicing your opinion. It's sad because I have had a couple of serious issues dealing with the chronicle and they were all mislead and far from the truth and facts!!!!

itsanotherday1
41948
Points
itsanotherday1 06/18/13 - 05:24 pm
6
0
The officials have the FACTS

The officials have the FACTS and they have determined this to be an accidental drowning. They have no interest in sweeping a crime under the rug; quite the contrary as a matter of fact. It was simply a tragic accident that I hope no one has to go through, and I pray this grieving mother finds peace. I'm not so sure I could given the circumstances.

Soggy_Bottom
45
Points
Soggy_Bottom 06/18/13 - 08:25 pm
0
1
The families of Hunter's Mill

My, my. The assumptions. This is my neighborhood. A new neighborhood of less than 10 years with under a dozen homes occupied.

The three families involved have been there from the start. The kids grew up with each other. Playing with each other every day, back and forth to each others homes. Riding bikes, playing basketball. The three families with kids who were in each others company day in and day out. Mom can I go play with my friend was said every day. As soon as they were off the school bus, they were in each others company.

No strange places, no wandering off, no not knowing where the kids are. They were there, at one or the others home.

Yes, parents are responsible for their children and for the children visiting their homes. Kids are known for playing around, teasing each other. Accidents happen.

If what I am understanding correctly, thru the papers, TV, and my neighbors, the real issue here is this:

1. Notification of missing child about 9:30 ish pm.
2. Last know whereabouts from Mom is neighbor's house playing.
3. Neighbor has pool, fenced, locked, surveillance cameras.
4. Search neighborhood for four hours before searching pool.
5. Neighborhood consists of one street, one perpendicular street.
6. Woods surround.
7. Neighbor across street has locked fence, pool and pond behind (was not contacted by officials, was not searched) actually didn't know about incident till noon next day from internet. Windows open at night, but heard no sirens or people yelling during search.

8. Clothes description did not match (no swim trunks) shoes picked up for evidence several days later, missing Sponge Bob shirt only recently found and taken in.

9. Sketchy surveillance video - now this may be due to only a little info given out. But, house does have a surveillance system that does look onto the road and around the home. I would think that the pool would be one place that definitely would be under surveillance.

10. Older kids cleaning pool, and younger ones helping (even though one is very afraid of being near water without some sort of floatation device.)

11. Where were the parents at the house with the pool? No mention of them at all.

12. Ruled accidental drowning - how long under water? Any signs of injury from falling or hitting head?

To close out, this event was devastating to all - the neighborhood, the people with the pool, the kids, and most of all the family who lost their youngest and whom I saw grow from a stumbling toddler to a very bright and caring young boy. My prayers are with you all.

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs