Tamla Horsford Case: Accident or Murder?

    A day like any other in an ordinary city in Georgia, United States. With a population of not more than 5,500 people where life seemed ordinary and people went on about their daily routines. But what happened overnight in this peaceful city that shook everyone in the town to their cores and brought everyone to the edge of their seats?

    On November 4th, 2018, Tamla Horsford the mother of 5 children, was found dead in the backyard of a house where she had gone for a slumber party with other “football moms” the night before.

    tamla harsford

    The death was initially ruled as an accident by the Sheriff’s department and the injuries were related to Tamla Horsford being highly intoxicated and falling off the balcony. The case was closed, the town mourned her death and moved on but little did they know that there was more to the story that they knew about.

    Death of Tamla Horsford

    According to witnesses present, Tamla arrived at the slumber party at around 10 p.m. on November 3rd. all the attendees watched television, drank alcohol, and played Cards Against Humanity.


    At around 2 a.m. Tamla went to smoke a cigarette and the next day at 7:30 a.m. her lifeless body was found lying face down in the backyard. A call was made to 9-1-1 at 8:59 a.m. by the homeowner’s boyfriend Jose Barrera, a pre-trial officer who happened to be among the three men present at the slumber party.

    Attention was brought by Jose to a small slit on Tamla Horsford wrist which caused high speculation of the injury is self-inflicted. The police reached the site at 9:07 a.m.

    Case Investigation

    The autopsy reports revealed blunt force injuries and a high blood alcohol level and the department declared the cause of death to be the alcohol level that caused Tamla to fall off the porch which was a 14-foot drop. Tamla’s friends and family were not at all convinced by the reports and filed for a second autopsy by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) which revealed quite shocking results.


    According to the autopsy, Tamla had a blood alcohol level of .238, traces of Alprazolam (an anxiety drug), cuts on her face, legs, hands, and wrist, and a “laceration to the right ventricle”.

     The case was closed on February 20, 2019, saying “It was a party. They were drinking. She was drinking. Most of the partygoers had gone to bed at that time, and she was on the deck alone.” (Official statement by Major Joe Perkins) and declared that there was no solid evidence of potential murder.

    Public Interest

    After two months of Tamla’s death and first autopsy, people took to social media with the hashtag #TamlaHorsford to share their theories after looking at the case from different perspectives, offer their condolences to Tamla’s relatives and friends, and demand justice for her untimely death.

    Almost everyone suspected foul play and was convinced that the death was not an accident or suicide but a carefully planned murder. But all those theories and people’s hunger for justice dissolved over time when Tamla’s death was ruled as an accident.

    Public interest was surprisingly renewed in June 2020 during the protests against police brutality and the death of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor but the main reason for people’s interest was when the Horsford family’s attorney Ralph E. Fernandez sent a letter to Tamla’s husband Leander Horsford, on June 5, 2020, which claimed that his team’s investigation strongly suggested murder.

    The letter clearly stated that her injuries showed signs of physical struggle, witnesses’ statements were in conflict and a potential subject handled the body and the evidence very well, maybe even too well. The letter was published a couple of days later by an Atlanta journalist and brought the media’s attention to the case once more.

    Demand for Justice and Second Investigation

    In June alone, Tamla Horsford name spread all over social media. People again started sharing their theories and constantly asked people to sign the petition for Tamla’s case to be reopened and demanded justice for her, starting with protestors marching in Cummings, Georgia holding signs with Tamla’s name along with the names of other dead Black Americans murdered by police over the past couple of years.


    On June 12, 2020, Sheriff Ron Freeman sent a letter requesting that the case be re-opened and investigated by the GBI. He stated that the investigation was best undertaken by an independent law enforcement agency. The GBI agreed to reopen the case on June 18, 2020, but the date of the investigation opening has not been disclosed yet.

    Case Theories 

    After the investigation and the two autopsies, something just didn’t seem right and many people came up with some remarkable theories which could quite easily be true.

    The first thing that stood out was that the time when Tamla’s body was discovered varied from source to source. Some sites stated that the body was found around 7:30 while others state that it was found around 8:30 but the call was made to 9-1-1 at 8:59. The odd thing about this is that all the attendees waited for at least half an hour (if the body was discovered at 8:30) before calling 9-1-1. I don’t know about you but if a friend of mine was found unconscious or possibly dead, I would not wait for even 5 minutes before calling an ambulance, let alone half an hour.

    Many theories that suggested murder were, that the town of Cummings. Georgia is a very racist city and with Tamla being a Black American resident, the chances of people murdering her were quite high, considering that the murders of Black people have increased in the past couple of years.

    Other minor details about the body itself and the attendees’ behavior suggest murder. For example, Tamla Horsford body was positioned in a way that did not look like she fell off the balcony. Moreover, Jose Barrera, a pre-trial officer (former) and the homeowner’s boyfriend, tried to access personal files of both Tamla and her best friend after the latter became suspicious of Jose Barrera being either the murderer or an accomplice. After being aware of the suspicion, Jose tried to threaten her with the files, for which he was fired immediately.

    What do you think happened? Was it a murder, as the theories suggest, an accident or suicide?


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