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Mother pushes to have son’s death re-investigated

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RACINE (WITI) -- Eight-year-old Artis Echoles died almost 25 years ago, but just three months ago his mother, Carmen White, petitioned a Jefferson County judge to have her son's death re-investigated.

White was just 26 when she turned to the state for help with her son who was hyperactive. The state put the boy in foster care.

"My life went downhill with guilt, shame," White said.

In June of 1988, Echoles disappeared after a day with his foster family at Bark River Campground. He was last seen near one of the ponds. Divers searched for nearly an hour the next morning before recovering his body.

"He didn't just die," his mother insists.

The coroner's report showed the cause of death as accidental drowning, however the Sheriff's report has different accounts of the events leading up to it. Three children told investigators they saw a white man throwing a black child into the river, trying to make him swim. One even claimed the man held the boy's head underwater. Echoles' mother discovered this report just over a year ago.

"They just act like the kids was crazy and that the kids didn't know what they were talking about, but the kids know what they're talking about and because of those children is why I'm standing here talking to you today," White told FOX6 News.

The Jefferson County District Attorney will deliver a decision on charges on April 26th. If they feel foul play was involved, a John Doe hearing will be launched. However, if they decide not to pursue the case they must provide a written explanation as to why. On Thursday, April 25th, White gathered with family and friends outside the home she last saw her son alive. They prayed for criminal charges.