Crime & Courts

Convicted sex offender faces charges in killing of 2-year-old

HILTON HEAD ISLAND -- A convicted sex offender has been charged with killing the 2-year-old adopted son of a Bluffton attorney, authorities said Wednesday.

The victim, Joshua Pinckney, had been living with his adoptive mother, Miriam Pinckney, and her boyfriend in Cumming, Ga., a community northeast of Atlanta.

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

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

Gilreath also faces charges of failure to register as a sex offender and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

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.

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

On Friday, Miriam Pinckney called 911 at about 7 a.m., Moss said. Authorities found the 2-year-old boy dead in his bed. Pinckney, Gilreath and the Pinckneys' other adopted child were home at the time.

Investigators believe the beating took place in the afternoon or early evening the day before, 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.

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

That report indicated 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. He was unsure when those results would be available.

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

He declined to 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 whether Miriam Pinckney was employed.

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

In Bluffton, the Pinckney family declined comment.

-- The (Hilton Head) Island Packet