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For some reason, authorities ruled a Baton Rouge death as a drug overdose before it was revealed that the deceased person suffered a gunshot wound to the chest. According to The Advocate, the first homicide of 2020 was almost unreported thanks to investigators and on-the-scene detectives. Now the family has questions on whether authorities actually made a mistake or if the whole investigation was compromised.

Joah Ross was pronounced dead on New Years Day after his mom discovered him unresponsive inside their Fairfields area home that afternoon. The cops and the coroner’s office said investigators initially assumed the death was an accidental overdose due to drugs found in the room. It’s not revealed what kind of drugs were allegedly found. Despite claims of drugs present, funeral home workers later discovered a gunshot wound to Ross’ chest when they were prepping his body the next day.

The cops and coroner’s office were alerted about the wound and then a homicide investigation was launched. Ross’ family now has questions about how the wound was overlooked in the first place.

“Somebody’s got to be held accountable,” his sister Jamie Edwards said. “That one mistake could be what turns this into a cold case while my brother’s killer goes free.” Family members are wondering if the investigation was compromised from the beginning.

Court records show that Ross had a history of drug possession, however, his family said they don’t believe he was dealing with an addiction. Though Baton Rouge police confirmed that Ross suffered a gunshot wound to the chest on Friday, it’s not yet known when he was shot.

Strangely enough, relatives reported finding “blood everywhere” in the living room and soaked through Ross’ garments when they found his body. So the question arises again, how did on-the-scene investigators miss all this. Shane Evans, chief of investigations for the East Baton Rouge Coroner’s Office, claimed he couldn’t comment on the specifics of the investigation but argued that it’s not uncommon to find blood at an overdose scene because there’s usually some discharge from the person’s nose and mouth.

Evans said autopsies usually aren’t carried out unless foul play is suspected. This is why Ross’ body was sent to the funeral home when investigators made their initial assessment, then returned to the coroner’s office for an autopsy once the gunshot wound was found.

Evans said the coroner’s office has carried out an internal investigation but declined to reveal the outcome. Ross’ sister said she couldn’t help but question whether investigators assumed his death was drug-related when they witnessed the neighborhood where he was killed. It’s a series of residential streets whose residents have often complained of drug activity from civilians.

Detectives came back to the scene of the crime the following day to explain their mistake to Ross’ relatives and to collect more evidence. However, Edwards said they only did this after the scene was contaminated, blood wiped clean and furniture rearranged.

“I just feel like nobody was taking this seriously from the start,” Edwards said. “I hope they’re doing everything they can to make up for it now.”

Ross spent most of his life in the house where he passed, which is located in an area that has a history of high gun violence rates and unsolved crimes.

Family described Ross as funny and lovable. The 26-year-old left behind two daughters, ages 7 and 3. Edwards said she texted her little brother around midnight, wishing him a happy new year. She never expected it would be their last conversation.

“This brought in our new year with a bang,” Edwards said. “Now we’re just hoping for justice.”


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