The attorney for a Georgia homeowner at the center of an investigation into the mysterious death of a mother of five is denying rumors the victim was “murdered” during a birthday slumber party hosted by his client.
Now just-released audio from the 911 call is giving new insight into the tragedy.
Tamla Horsford, 40, died Nov. 4, 2018, after allegedly falling 18 feet off the balcony of a Forsyth County home where she and seven other women had gathered for an overnight party. Horsford’s body was discovered the next day in the backyard area of the residence, according to the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office.
Authorities responded to a 911 call of an unresponsive person at the home early that morning, where they found Horsford, who lived in Cumming, Ga. Her Best friend, Michelle Wynn Graves, said she simply wants to know what happened that night and believes something went awry.
“I miss her very much,” Graves told local station WSB-TV this week. “The original story we got was that, you know, she drank too much and it was alcohol poisoning and she passed away.”
ICYMI: County employee fired for accessing police reports into a death he witnessed. pic.twitter.com/kgRJWcV9QZ
— Mike Petchenik (@Mike_Petchenik) February 11, 2019
On Friday, attorney Eric Tatum, who’s representing the homeowner in question, released a statement rebutting what he called “wrongful accusations” made in the case. Tatum stated his client has been fully cooperative with police, as well as Horsford’s family and friends, in regard to providing details about her tragic death.
The investigation remains open, he said, and “every aspect of [my] client’s life” has been looked over. That hasn’t stopped the death threats, however.
“The threats need to stop,” Tatum wrote. “This tragic accident is exactly that, an accident. It’s unfortunate, sad and extremely heartbreaking to [my client’s] family and friends. However, certain very vocal friends and family members of Mrs. Horsford’s have been describing this accident as a ‘murder.’ Nothing could be farther from the truth.”
According to online reports, at least three men were also in attendance at the party. One of them was Jose Barrera, the homeowner’s boyfriend, who dialed 911 after finding Horsford’s body in the backyard.
“She’s laying in the yard, basically on the patio downstairs,” Barrera says in 911 audio obtained by WSB-TV. “She’s not moving one bit. She’s not breathing.” Barrera also makes mention of a small cut on her right wrist, stating, “I don’t know if this cut was self-inflicted.”
“I’m guessing, maybe she may have fallen off the balcony,” a woman tells the dispatcher.
In December, the Forsyth County Court system fired Barrera from his job as a probation officer for allegedly using his position to access confidential files related to Horsford’s death investigation. A police report filed by Horsford’s friend Michelle Graves accuses Barrera of accessing her personal information and providing it to other individuals who attended the party, the Forsyth County News reported.
Barrera has denied the allegations, saying he had no reason to illegally access the data when such information is already publicly available online and in court and sheriff’s office documents.
“For her to believe that her information was leaked by me is grossly incorrect and I will believe that until the day I die,” he told the newspaper. “Anybody can be found.”
Graves isn’t buying it, however, and said she doesn’t believe her friend fell to her death. According to the death certificate, however, the coroner seems to have taken Barrera’s word for it, listing Horsford’s death as an “accidental” fall from a deck that resulted in “multiple blunt force injuries.”
The coroner also noted “acute ethanol intoxication” or alcohol poisoning as a significant factor contributing in Horsford’s death. The drug Xanax was allegedly also found in her bloodstream.
News of Horsford’s mysterious death has been widely circulated across social media, sparking demands for justice in the case.
“I do believe her life was taken from her,” Graves said. “We’re glad we’re not the only ones who feel that something is definitely awry.”
A GoFundMe page for Horsford has since raised $3,405.
Watch more in the video below.