SLAYDEN, MS (abc24.com) - He's a fighter. A Marshall County 18-year-old is in critical condition at The MED but there are positive signs. Charles Hardeman's family says he's giving them thumbs up and wiggling his toes, but he's not able to talk.
The teen is on life support after surviving a violent attack at his home last week, then crashing his car into a tree as he tried to escape. Deputies are working overtime to piece together what happened.
Charles has several fractures to his face and head from the car crash. He's still on a breathing machine. Doctors say how he does this week will be critical to his survival.
"He's my baby brother. He's a year behind me," says Ashley Hardeman. "My brother is just 18 years old. He doesn't even know what's to the world."
Charles Hardeman saw the ugly side of it last week when he was attacked at his home before it burned to the ground.
"We think someone at one point held him up against his will, then tied him up with a belt and tied him to this article, a concrete article, and threw him in the lake," says Major Kelly McMillen.
That's what the sheriff's department has pieced together without being able to talk to Charles. What deputies don't know far outweighs what they do.
"We don't know anything," Ashley says. "My brother is the type of person that everybody loves."
"He's a great kid, just trying to get through high school," says McMillen.
And deputies are trying to solve this mystery.
"We discovered some blood out on a pier on the east side of his house. We've taken samples of that to possibly match up to suspect. We brought in a dive team and were able to recover stuff out of a lake that belonged to Charles, his glasses and a cell phone."
"They are doing everything they can with the little information they have," Ashley says. "I just wish all his friends he's close to that might have any kind of information come forward."
"We hope and pray everything comes out good for him," McMillen adds. "That he can pull through this and maybe he's the key to this whole investigation and can tell us everything that happened and who's involved in it."
The sheriff's department is working the case with the State Fire Marshal. Deputies are following up on every lead, but say they still need the one that helps solve it.