What happened to Tamala Horsford?

By Frederick H. Lowe


An African-American  wife and mother who attended what was billed as a football moms’-only sleepover party was found dead in the backyard of the home where the party was held in Forsyth County, Georgia, an  area with a notoriously racist history detailed in Patrick Phillips’ 2016 book “Blood at the Root.”

Tamala Horsford, 40, of Cumming, Georgia, was found dead on November 4, 2018, a day after the party  that was held at 4450 Woodlet Court in North Forsyth. The Georgia Medical Examiner said she died from injuries caused by  falling from the home’s balcony. She suffered trauma to her head and torso. Her neck was broken and one wrist was dislocated.

The death certificate ruled that Horsford died at 1:30 a.m. , but  her lifeless body, which was face down, wasn’t found until 7:30 in the morning. She was discovered by the homeowner’s aunt, but police weren’t called until two hours later.

Her death was ruled an accident caused by alcohol intoxication and drugs, including marijuana and Xanax, a tranquilizer.  Horsford’s family insists she was not taking anti-anxiety medication.

Michelle Graves, Horsford’s best friend, said she believes something else happened to her. “It’s impossible to get that many injuries from one fall,” Graves said. Asked if she believed Horsford was murdered, Graves said, “I believe her life was taken away from her.”

Sheriff Ron Freeman of the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office,  said there was no evidence of a physical assault.

The Horsford family reportedly has hired a forensic pathologist to conduct their own investigation because they don’t believe she died in an accident. Hiring a forensic pathologist for a second opinion is becoming increasingly common among blacks who don’t trust official autopsy results.

Although the sleep over was a mom’s-only party, three men also attended, including Jose Barrera, a former pre-trial services officer in Forsyth County. The other two men weren’t identified. Barrera’s girlfriend  is related in some way to the homeowner where Horsford’s body was found. All of the party’s attendees were white except Horsford.

“Blood at the Root”

A photograph posted on Facebook shows a smiling Horsford sitting on a couch dressed in pajamas. Emojis cover the faces of the people sitting next to her to hide their identities.

The party’s attendees claim they did nothing wrong,  and they said they have fully cooperated with the police.

After her death, Horsford’s family and friends as well as concerned others claimed the police didn’t investigate her mysterious death and the news media largely ignored it.

“If she had been a white woman, her death would be all over the news,” wrote one blogger.

Horsford is survived by her husband, Leander, and their six children, five sons and a daughter. Their sons are Jayden, Payton, Gaven, Braydon and Mason. Akieshma is their daughter.

“Blood at the Root” describes how whites drove 1,098 black families out of Forsyth County and took over their land, homes, churches and cattle. The county also was the site where black men were dragged from the jail and lynched.


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