Sheriff admits mistakes made in Rivera search

by: Aaron Diamant Updated:

CANTON, Ga.,None —

In the fallout from the search for a missing 7-year-old found murdered, Channel 2 Action News has confirmed Cherokee County sheriff's deputies will be disciplined over mistakes they made during the search for Jorelys Rivera.

The day after Rivera disappeared from the playground of the Rivers Edge apartment complex in Canton, dispatch logs obtained by Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant show search crews "checking all vacant apartments."

A task team divided up among several agencies on scene, including the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office.

"They were making quick, cursory searches through the building, through those apartments," Cherokee County Sheriff Roger Garrison said.

A week and a half later, Garrison now admits one of his deputies and a trainee made a major mistake, clearing an empty apartment that turned out to be the crime scene where Jorelys was killed.

"When they passed through it the mission was that they were looking for a missing person," Garrison said.

The sheriff said the deputies didn't tell anyone they saw what looked like a small amount of blood inside the apartment, only speaking up when questioned by the Georgia Bureau of investigation two days later.

"That's got to make you mad?" Diamant asked.

"Certainly. There's not really any excuse for it," Garrison said.


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The sheriff said both men face disciplinary action. Meantime, more questions have come up after sources told Diamant they were wondering why Canton Police Chief Jeff Lance, whose agency was leading the investigation, wasn't on-scene heading up the search for Jorelys the morning after disappeared.

Diamant talked to Lance on the phone Wednesday and asked him the question point blank.

"Can I ask where you were?" Diamant asked. But the chief wouldn't say.

"What do you mean what does it matter? Does it not matter?" Diamant asked.

Lance also offered no explanation why he never called in the GBI, whose child abduction response team was created to help local agencies in the critical first few hours.

Ironically, it was Garrison who ultimately called the GBI and within hours found the crime scene and Jorelys' body in a nearby dumpster no one had checked.

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