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Sheriff’s office case file released in Forsyth County woman’s death
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Tamla Horsford. Photo courtesy of GoFundMe.

Investigative reports surrounding the death of Forsyth County woman, Tamla Horsford, were released by the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office on Friday, making public case files and medical examiners reports that led authorities to rule the woman’s Nov. 4, 2018 death an accident.  

At a Feb. 20 press conference, Maj. Joe Perkins, head of the sheriff’s office’s major case unit, told reporters that they have ruled that 40-year-old Horsford fell from the back deck of 4450 Woodlet Court in north Forsyth during an overnight party; her body was discovered laying in the residence’s back yard the next morning.

According to a now public GBI Medical Examiners Report, completed by Associate Medical Examiner Andrew Koopmeiners on Feb. 5, 2018, the “multiple blunt force injuries” that Horsford’s body sustained are, “consistent with those received in a fall.”

The report states that Horsford sustained severe injuries to the head, neck and torso, including cuts to her face, wrist, hand and lower legs, as well as a “laceration to the right ventricle” of her heart.

“In light of the autopsy findings and investigative information, the cause of death is multiple blunt force injuries and the manner of death is [an] accident,” Koopmeiners wrote in the report.

Download the Tamla Horsford Crime Scene Report

The GBI’s investigation also included an in-depth toxicology screening of Horsford’s body, which showed that at the time of her death Horsford had an elevated blood alcohol level of .238, and detected traces of THC and the anxiety drug, Alprazolam in her system.

In multiple statements to authorities, the 12 witnesses that were at the residence on the night that Horsford died, recounted how she arrived at the residence at approximately 9 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2018, partied with the group until about 1 a.m. on Nov. 4, 2018 when partygoers went to bed, and was last seen at 1:47 a.m. when one of the group left.

Sheriff’s office reports also state that the residence’s security system logged that the back door was opened and closed at 1:49 and 1:50 a.m., then reopened at 1:57 a.m., but was never closed and was found ajar the next morning when Horsford’s body was discovered.

In her statement to detectives, Madeline Lombardi, a resident of the home, stated that she discovered Horsford lying in the backyard of the residence at about 9 a.m. and initially thought that the woman was sleeping before she was “startled” by the body’s position and went to wake other residents.

“I told them Tam was in the grass not moving. Jose (Barrera) came downstairs. Someone called 911,” her statement reads.

Perkins said that deputies arrived at the residence at 9:07 a.m. on Nov. 4, 2018, just eight minutes after a call to 911 was placed by the homeowner, Jeanne Meyers.

He said they believe there was no substantial gap between when the body was discovered and when 911 was alerted.

Download the Tamla Horsford Death Investigation Report

In December, Barrera, a former pre-trial services officer with the Forsyth County court system who attended the party, was terminated from his position within the county after authorities determined that he allegedly accessed an incident report from the Nov. 4, 2018 death through his work access at the court system.

After Barrera’s firing, interest in Horsford’s death skyrocketed online, with hundreds of people taking to social media with the hashtag #tamlahorsford and questioning different reports made in the case.

Previously Perkins said that Barrera’s actions were unethical but not illegal. On Wednesday he said that the actions, “brought a cloud over” the death investigation.

In the months since Horsford’s body was discovered, Perkins said that their detectives have logged more than 300 man-hours investigating this case, conducting neighborhood canvasses and about 30 interviews with “certain family and friends.”

In interviews with Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office investigator Mike Christian, members of the Horsford family expressed their frustrations and doubts about the incident, questioning authorities’ methods and conclusions in the weeks following the death.

“I want the truth of what’s going on, because I mean, the stories I’ve heard so far, none of them make sense,” said Horsford’s husband, Leander Horsford. “And if they don’t make sense, usually there’s a reason they don’t make sense.”

During their interview, Horsford and Terry Blanco, sister-in-law to Tamla Horsford, asked Christian why Horsford’s shoes and cigarette butts weren’t collected and tested, asserting that evidence could have been overlooked.

“Even when she’s had the most she could have, she’s never ever fallen down,” Blanco stated. “We all know Tami and none of this makes sense.”

Horsford and Blanco also told detectives that the family has ordered a second autopsy done privately out of state, because they, “don’t trust” the system in Forsyth County.

“In my personal opinion I think that the investigation has been mishandled,” Horsford said. “That’s just my personal opinion because there’s a lot of things that were left back, that should not have been left back.”

Thus far the Forsyth County News has been unable to reach the Horsford family for comment on the incident.