The GBI ruled Carlene’s death as a homicide in May. Bibb investigators say the incident happened at 9 a.m. Sunday, March 22 at a home on Ivy Brook Way.
The girl’s parents, Jason and Jodi Rigby, told authorities their daughter went to bed around 9 p.m. Saturday. When her dad went to wake her up for church the next morning, he found her in the bed with a cord from the window blind wrapped around her neck.
“It appears that Carly died as a result of a freak accident during a game that she played with her then nine-year-old brother,” Bibb County District Attorney David Cooke said. "This game lead to her death is what all the evidence points to at this point."
41NBC is not releasing the brother’s name because of his age.
Cooke says her brother’s Sunday school teacher came forward in June. She told authorities he and Carlene liked to play a game where they jumped in large piles of laundry.
"At some point during the game he would attempt to restrain her or tie her up and she would try to get away," Cooke said. "He lamented to her [his Sunday school teacher] ‘She always gets out, she always gets away."
"I don’t think that was criminal intent if it was from a game being played," Bibb County Sheriff David Davis said. "It was just a tragic result of child’s play."
Cooke says Carlene’s parents were initially persons of interest and her mother was a suspect because they lied to investigators and were uncooperative. But evidence showed they were not responsible for the toddler’s death.
"Not cooperating with the police after your child dies does not necessarily mean that you caused the child to die," Cooke said. "We don’t have any evidence to show that these parents even knew this game existed."
Cooke is now urging all parents to talk to their kids so an accident like this does not happen again.
"When a child is intentionally tying up another child repeatedly as part of a game, that is a dangerous thing," Cooke said. "I would caution all parents to talk to their kids tonight."
As this family tries to move forward with counseling and help from the Bibb County DFCS.
"This is a precious little girl who lost her life and a family who is going to have to deal with that," Davis said.
41NBC reached out to DFCS who could not confirm or deny working with the Rigby family. It also couldn’t give any updates regarding this case.
41NBC also reached out to the Rigby’s attorney, Gregory Bushway, for comment. He released the following statement on the Rigby’s behalf:
Mr. and Mrs. Rigby are relieved that they are not going to be indicted and have been absolved of any criminal responsibility. They’re disappointed that the responsibility of their daughter’s death is being placed on one of their sons. The Rigby’s agree that their daughter’s death was an accident, but do not believe their son had anything to do with it whatsoever.
Bushway tells 41NBC News the Rigby’s other children returned to the family’s home Wednesday night. He adds they are continuing to grieve as a family for the loss of their daughter and sister.