Joella Carter - Reaves
March 1, 1992 - December 1, 2003
Find A Grave Memorial
What could an 11 year old girl be guilty of that would condemn her to a beating so bad that she would die? 

What caused Rodney Michael Reaves, Joella's father who is 37 years old and Charlotte Lynette Reaves, her stepmother who is 38 years old to tie Joella up in the garage, not feed her or provide a bed or sanitary bathroom facilities for her and then beat her to death with an umbrella and a paddle? Rodney Reaves is a sailor for 19 years, with a 3 1/2 year tour as a Navy recruiter, and is a gunner's mate on the USS Wasp which is based in Norfolk, Virginia. Charlotte Reaves works as a vascular ultrasound technician at a hospital. Rodney and Charlotte gained custody of Joella in June of 2002 after her biological mother was killed in a car wreck.

This brave girl tried to escape and was only punished further for her attempts to save her own life. Joella was being punished for something that is unknown to the public as of this date, December 10, 2003.

After keeping Joella in the garage for about seven days, even over the Thanksgiving holiday, with temperatures sometimes going as low as only 30 degrees, Rodney made a call to 911 on Monday, December 1, 2003 and when emergency crews arrived, Joella was pronounced dead. The cause of Joella's death is listed as blunt force trauma and her father is denying that he had any part in it. Joella has a brother who was taken into the custody of the sate.

Phyllis Shrader, director of the Henry County Department of Family and Children's Services said:

"The Reaves family has no history of child abuse"

Rodney's Attorney, Bruce Harvey stated:

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

He had this to say about the details of the abuse in the arrest warrant:

"It's a one-sided version of what police would like the public to believe, without the opportunity to be challenged. They vigorously deny the charges against them."

Rodney claimed that he had been 400 miles away when his daughter died and in court a Forensic Pathologist testified that Joella had died from one blow to the head which had been done while Rodney was on his way to Virginia. Other experts said that Joella had died very slowly as a result of beatings that lasted for several days. At one point Rodney told police that Joella had given the injuries to herself.

Rodney told the police that Joella was being punished for stealing from her stepmother and half-brother. Charlotte had made Joella write a sentence that read: "I am a thief and a liar, I am good for nothing and I stink". Rodney also admitted that he had tied her hands and ankles with speaker wire and locked her in the garage for days because she kept cutting her own hair. The lawyer for Rodney insisted that it was Charlotte, not Rodney, who had actually killed Joella.

Police were not releasing any information about how they determined the extent and kind of abuse which caused Joella's death. Charlotte's Attorney, Michael Antoniolli, says it is too early to make a statement. Both Rodney and Charlotte have been charged with felony murder and cruelty to children.

Neighbors say they were shocked to learn of what to place and have wondered why they didn't hear anything that would have alerted them to the situation.

"If I had, I would have called someone. It's shocking, 
especially being two doors down,"
Randy McCollom

Some caring neighbors, who say none of them knew the Reave's very well, decorated the Reave's mailbox with balloons, stuffed animals and angels.

Jim Davis, the Principal at Joella Reaves' school had this to say about her:

"She made very good grades. She was a very personable 
student. She had her circle of friends, she was relatively quiet."

Grief counseling was offered at Joella's school. Jim Davis added:

"You get a sense of mortality when someone your age dies. Some students took i
t harder than others,"


On June 14, 2004 it was reported that Flint District Attorney Tommy Floyd, was seeking the death penalty for Rodney Michael Reaves, and Charlotte Lynette Reaves. The charges against them are malice murder, two counts of felony murder, first degree cruelty to a child and aggravated battery. They are both being held without bail in the Hengry Count jail. They, along with three other defendants who are charged with failing to report signs of child abuse, will be due in court for their first arraignment hearing March 16.

The couple is going to be represented by death-penalty qualified attorneys. Rodney Reaves attorney  plans to seek a trial separate from the trail of Charlotte Reaves.

The three other defendants will be Catherine Turnigan Mauer and two school employees, Patricia White and Carolyn Clemons are believed to have known about the abuse Joella was suffering and did not report it even though the law states that they have to. Carolyn Clemons is charged with making false statements to the police about having seen Joella and knowing she was being abused. Carolyn and Patricia were both fired over their failure to report the abuse. Not reporting child abuse is a misdemeanor, making false statements to the police is a felony.


I received an e-mail from a nice woman who wanted to let me know that Rodney had been to court and was convicted on charges of felony murder, aggravated battery and two counts of cruelty to children. 

On Monday the 16th of February, 2009, Rodney was in court and had lashed out at the prosecutors and other people who he said were lying about him. Rodney was removed from the courtroom and he was heard trying to get the bailiffs to taser him.

On February 18, 2009, over five years after Joella was beaten to death, justice is finally served on her. Rodney is facing the death penalty and his fate will be decided starting today, February 19, 2009. There are three possible outcomes, one is death, one is life with the possibility of parole and the other is life without parole. The jury was out for about ten hours during a two day period before they found him guilty.

Rodney sat still and seemed to be without any emotion at all as the jury walked back into the courtroom to deliver their verdict. It wasn't until the verdict was read, guilty, that Rodney started crying and put his face into his hands. Also in the courtroom were Rodney's mother and brother and Joella's Uncle Jeffrey who made a comment over the phone:

?It?s been a long time coming for our family. I think 
justice was served, and it was a long time coming. 
This guy was a monster?
Jeffrey Carter

Jeffrey said that Rodney deserves the death penalty:

?If it gets to that point. I?ll be there to see it.?
Jeffrey Carter

Charlotte Reaves will go on trial in April of 2009.


At the sentencing trial for Rodney, Tommy Floyd held up a picture of Joella for the jury to see and had a message for them.

?This case is about this little girl, don?t forget that. This case is about Joella and what 
happened to her?
DA Tommy Floyd 

On Friday, February 20, 2009, a jury spent so little time, only about 90 minutes, on deciding the fate of Rodney, they sentenced him to life in prison WITH the possibility of parole which he will be eligible for in 14 years. We can only HOPE that the parole board sees this man for what he is and will NEVER let him out.

Rodney had spoken on his own behalf, earlier that day:

?I felt guilty. Still do. I do feel guilty because I left my child with somebody I could trust, 
I thought. I feel guilty about this because this child asked me to help her. I feel guilty 
because I thought I failed her"

Rodney's lawyer plans to appeal the decision:

?I just don?t believe there was enough evidence this man beat this child"
Gary Bowman Public Defender

Tommy Floyd said he was happy with the verdict and the sentence.


Through an anonymous message sent to me I learned the following:

"For a conviction of murder, the rules are different.  Please see O.C.G.A. 17-10-6.1(c)(1): "... for a first conviction of a serious violent felony in which the defendant has been sentenced to life imprisonment, that person shall not be eligible for any form of parole or early release administered by the State Board of Pardons and Paroles until that person has served a minimum of 30 years in prison. The minimum term of imprisonment shall not be reduced by any earned time, early release, work release, leave, or other sentence-reducing measures under programs administered by the Department of Corrections."

You can view the Code of Georgia online at

I hope this helps to relieve some of the anguish some people may feel at the sentencing of Rodney Reaves.

Note from the site creator:
I want to thank this person for setting things straight about this. I also hope that some people feel a little better about the sentencing. I think that I would feel better if life in prison actually meant a person could NEVER get out, for any reason, unless 100% proof could be found to prove them innocent, I don't see that in this case. Thanks again to whoever sent this to me, I fully appreciate it and I am sure others do as well.

I always welcome any help, corrections or other input when I am making pages for these children.


On May 4, 2009, Charlotte Reaves, who was 43 at that time, was sentenced to life in prison for what she did to Joella. Judge Wade Crumbley was given rights to decide her fate in exchange for the state not seeking the death penalty against her. While I am against the death penalty, I always find it disturbing that these people who kill their children are looking for ways to get out of dying for what they have done. It's as they they believe it was okay for them to kill an innocent child, however, THEY feel they should not have to die for what they did.

With both of her murderers in jail for life, I hope that Joella is finally resting in peace. My thanks to Sherry for sending me this update. I can't thank her and all of you who send me updates, corrections and other information to add to these pages in memory of these children, enough for your help.

Below is the gravestone of Joella Reaves. She is resting peacefully in the Carmichael Cemetery in Mullins, South Carolina.

Death occurred in the state of Georgia

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