Quitman children's deaths ruled as homicide

Published on Thursday, 31 July 2014 15:17 - Written by Kenneth Dean kdean@tylerpaper.com

QUITMAN - While the investigation continues, a key piece of information as been released in the deaths of two small children last week at an apartment complex in Quitman. 

Wood County Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Alice Tomerlin said she has received a cause of death report from the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences in Dallas that both children ages 3 and 4, died as a result of blunt force trauma, and the manner of death in both cases was homicide. 

Ms. Tomerlin said that is the only information she has received in the case at this time, and it has been turned over to the Quitman Police Department, which is working the case along with the Texas Rangers. 

Police have not released many details in the deaths except to report that Thomas Wayne TJ Liles, 19, of Quitman, was arrested and charged with tampering with or fabricating evidence, a third-degree felony, the day the children were found dead in the apartment last week. 

Witnesses saw Liles running from an apartment at the Dogwood Villa Apartments at 102 Earlene Drive, where the two girls were found dead, and throwing a large item into a nearby dumpster, according to the release.

Searching the dumpster, police located items consistent with having come from the apartment where the girls were found dead, according to the release. During an interview with a man matching the physical description provided to police, Liles admitted to placing the items into the dumpster.

However, police said it was unclear whether the discarded items were related to the deaths, and authorities remain tight-lipped about the cause of death and names.

According to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, the family had been investigated for allegations of medical neglect and physical neglect.

The report cited that the children's previous home had no running water, large amount of trash and debris inside the home and one had a bump on the leg that appeared to be infected.

During the investigation, the children's mother moved into better housing and sought medical care for them.

When the department closed the case in February, the mother and children were living alone.