Bluffton man's 2-year-old son killed; sex offender charged

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Date: 2009-02-18

By RENEE DUDLEY
rdudley@islandpacket.com
843-706-8138

A convicted sex offender has been charged with killing the 2-year-old adopted son of a Bluffton attorney in northern Georgia last week, authorities said Wednesday.

The boy, Joshua Pinckney, had been living with his adoptive mother, Miriam Pinckney, and her boyfriend in Cummings, Ga.

Miriam Pinckney, who moved to the Atlanta area from Beaufort County in December, is the estranged wife of Bluffton lawyer John Pinckney, of Pinckney Law Firm.

Miriam Pinckney's boyfriend, Christopher Brian Gilreath, faces charges of felony murder, aggravated battery and cruelty to children, Lt. Col. Gene Moss of the Forsyth County Georgia Sheriff's Office said Wednesday.

Gilreath also faces charges of failure to register as a sex offender and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, Moss said. He had most recently been registered as a sex offender in Pennsylvania and should have registered in Georgia within 72 hours of moving there, Moss said.

He is being held without bond at the Forsyth County Detention Center, a jail employee said Wednesday.

On Friday, Miriam Pinckney called 911 around 7 a.m., Moss said. Authorities arrived to find the 2-year-old boy dead in his bed. Pinckney, Gilreath and another adopted child were home at the time.

Investigators believe the beating took place the afternoon or early evening of Thursday, Feb. 12, Moss said.

At first, the Sheriff's Office treated the incident as an accidental death.

"We weren't sure how bad the abuse was," Moss said.

On Friday, authorities arrested Gilreath on charges not related to the beating. The additional charges in connection with the boy's death were added after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation released its preliminary autopsy results Saturday.

That report indicates that Joshua Pinckney suffered multiple blows to the head, Moss said. He declined to say whether a weapon was involved. Officials are awaiting the final results of the autopsy, including a toxicology report, Moss said.

There did not seem to be a history of abuse of the two children, he said.

Moss would not say whether Miriam Pinckney, who is not in custody, is a suspect.

"The investigation is ongoing," he said.

Gilreath is unemployed, Moss said. He said he didn't know Pinckney's occupation.

The second child, a 2-year-old girl, was taken into protective custody last week, Moss said. Both children had been adopted from Guatemala and are not biologically related to each other, he said.

The Pinckney family in Bluffton declined comment.

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