Couple accused of killing daughter to remain in jail

By Michael Davis

The Stockbridge couple accused of beating their daughter to death waived their right to a mandatory bond hearing Wednesday morning.

Without attorneys to represent them on charges of murder and cruelty to children, Rodney and Charlott Reaves told Superior Court Judge Hal Craig that they needed more time to hire lawyers.

"I was in the process of trying to do that, sir," Rodney Reaves quietly told Craig.

The couple was arrested Dec. 1 after police discovered the body of 11-year-old Joella Reaves in an upstairs bedroom of their Carriage Lake Drive home.

Craig told them that once they do hire attorneys, they "have the right to file for a motion for a bond hearing."

According to warrants, the girl had been tied up in the garage of the home over the Thanksgiving week and repeatedly beaten with a paddle and umbrella. Her cause of death was listed as "generalized blunt trauma."

Investigation of Joella Reaves' death has spilled over into Eagle's Landing Middle School where she was a student in sixth grade. Police are investigating whether Joella showed signs of ongoing abuse and if she did, whether school officials reported it properly. District Attorney Tommy Floyd said a grand jury would hear the results of both investigations at the same time and decide whether to issue indictments for either the Reaveses or school personnel.

"The investigation is still ongoing," said Henry County Bureau of Police Services Lt. Joe Tammaro.

A statement issued by the school system's coordinator of community development from Superintendent Jack Parish stated that "in addition to the school system's internal investigation of the matter, all personnel of the system have and will continue to cooperate fully with all investigative personnel from other agencies."

Dozens gathered at Red Oak United Methodist Church last week at a candlelight vigil for Joella.

Thelma Greer, the mother of one of Joella's classmates, attended the vigil with her 11-year-old daughter.

"The kids have to try to deal with what's happened and what's going on," Greer said. "Maybe they'll pay more attention to those telltale signs."

The Reaves are scheduled for a preliminary hearing in Henry County Magistrate Court Jan. 9.