I-TEAM UPDATE: Shock, questions follow death of school board election winner

Published: Nov. 16, 2022 at 8:09 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Questions and shock are swirling through the community just a day after newly elected school board member Tyrique Robinson died by apparent suicide.

He was the youngest member ever elected to the Richmond County Board of Education at just 20 years old.

When he died, Melissa Oden, a woman claiming to be his mentor, had accused Robinson of fraud.

Robinson was supposed to be learning in Perry starting on Monday for a weeklong training conference for newly elected board of education members in Georgia.

He did not go.

He was the kid with the infectious smile when he attended Cross Creek High School, warm and charismatic, lighting up the dark days of his classmates in the Class of 2020.

“As a senior, you look forward to your graduation and high school prom because it’s the last moments together as a class,” Robinson once told News 12.

He didn’t stop thinking about the challenges he and his classmates faced after graduation.

“How are we supposed to help our young people when we don’t even hear from our young people?” he said.

The 20-year-old ran unopposed for the District 6 seat on the Richmond County Board of Education.

A.K. Hasan lost the seat during redistricting.

Hasan also lost the title of youngest member to be elected to the school board when Robinson won last Tuesday.

The bright young man bringing hope … somehow lost hope himself a week later.

The 911 call about his death came in around 4:10 p.m. on the Tuesday after the election

His brother tells the operator, “Something told me to come here,” and he sobs, “He committed suicide.”

Robinson’s death was still not public when two hours later an outburst happened during the Richmond County Board of Education meeting.

The camera didn’t capture Jo’Rae Jenkins, but a commotion could be heard.

Ultimately, the meeting moved on.

Jenkins ran Robinson’s campaign.

Wednesday, she posted on Facebook:

“I don’t want to hear he was wrong. He knew better. Y’all are wrong, wrong, wrong.”

We met Oden during the height of the pandemic. The local nursing home owner talked with us when COVID shut down visitation.

On Friday, she sent this text message to News 12′s Liz Owens: “Liz, Melissa Oden. I have a very important story to tell you about a newly elected official who has been stealing.”

She said she took Robinson under her wing and invested about a quarter of a million dollars into his trucking and transport businesses.

She also told us she met with A.K. Hasan’s brother, Augusta Commission member Ben Hasan. He was considering running for his brother’s seat on the Richmond County Board of Education.

Oden asked him not to run against Robinson, that he was a young man with potential.

Two days after Robinson won the seat, Oden says she found unauthorized charges on her credit card.

That same day, the Richmond County Board of Elections told us Robinson inquired about resigning from office.

Oden told us she planned to go to the sheriff with her allegations again Robinson once she got back into town, which would have been Wednesday.

The I-TEAM sent Robinson a text Tuesday around noon asking for an interview before Oden went to the sheriff.

He never read the text.

He never answered the phone.

Robinson died before any report was made.

Oden did not return calls or text messages Wednesday from News 12.