Judge reopens drowning case two decades later
Mother speaks out
After a judge has re-opened the case more than two decades later, a mother who lost her son spoke out about the impact it had on her life.
Carmin White, mother to then-8-year-old Artis Echoles III, was told in 1988 that her son died in an accidental drowning while he was in foster care.
Artis’s foster mother said her daughter’s fiancé took him swimming in Bark River in Jefferson County when he disappeared on June 18. After an exhaustive search, Artis was found dead at the bottom of the river.
White described her biological son as hyperactive. She said because of his personality and her need to care for another child, she asked the state for help, and as a result Artis was placed in a foster family.
White said news of her son’s death sent her into a downward spiral that led to drug abuse and multiple stints in jail.
“I tried to move on with my life, thinking that was what happened, until 24 years later, my daughter found a Jefferson County envelope. It was devastating,” White said.
According to the report White’s daughter found, three witnesses said they saw Artis in the water with a man who tried to make him swim and held his head underwater.
Using the newly unearthed case files, White wrote to a judge asking for a John Doe investigation.
“Thank God for that judge after all these years,” White said. “It took her three days to read what everyone else overlooked.”
White said she hopes the witnesses and anyone else who saw the events unfold that day will come forward to speak up about it.
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