Police: Parents beat daughter to death with umbrella
CNN.com, December 3, 2003

Arrest warrant : Joella Reaves, 11, was beaten to death by her parents, police say. When she attempted to escape, she was hogtied. She was left with no food or water or sanitary or sleeping necessities.

ATLANTA, Georgia (AP) -- An 11-year-old girl's parents tied her up in the garage, starved the child and beat her with an umbrella until she died during the Thanksgiving holiday, police said.

Joella Reaves

The sixth-grader tried to escape her home in Stockbridge just south of Atlanta, but she was only punished more severely -- she was left without food, water, a bathroom or a bed, police said.

The girl's father, 37-year-old Rodney Michael Reaves, and her stepmother, 38-year-old Charlott Lynett Reaves, were arrested Monday and charged with felony murder and cruelty to children.

The girl, Joella Reaves, was beaten over her entire body with an umbrella and paddle for several days, according to the arrest warrant. Her cause of death was listed as blunt force trauma.

"When she attempted to escape, she was hogtied. She was left with no food or water or sanitary or sleeping necessities," the warrant said.

Charlott and Rodney Reaves

Joella was being punished by her parents, according to the warrant. Police, attorneys and child welfare officials would not say what she had done to anger her parents.

The father made the 911 call for help Monday morning, said Lt. Joe Tammaro of Henry County police. Joella was dead when emergency workers arrived.

"She made very good grades. She was a very personable student," said Jim Davis, principal at Eagle's Landing Middle School. "She had her circle of friends, she was relatively quiet."

Rodney Reaves, a gunner's mate on the USS Wasp based in Norfolk, Virginia, said he is innocent, said his attorney, Bruce Harvey.

"Mr. Reaves absolutely denies any liability for the tragic death of his daughter," Harvey said. "We categorically deny that."

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