Dad Who Left Child In Car Researched Heat Deaths

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CBS News – The father of a Georgia toddler who died in a hot SUV told authorities that he did an online search about children dying in vehicles because he was afraid it could happen.

Justin Ross Harris faces charges of murder and second-degree child cruelty in 22-month-old Cooper Harris’ death.

Search warrants released Saturday by Cobb County Police Department say Harris told police that he researched what temperature can cause a child’s death in a car.

The warrants say police were looking for a laptop, electronic devices and evidence of child neglect or abuse at the family’s Marietta home. Harris’ phone and car were included.

Harris has told police he was supposed to drive his son to daycare but drove to work on June 18, forgetting the boy was in the car.

A medical examiner in Georgia says hyperthermia was the cause of death for the child.

The investigation hinges on a key question: Was the boy the victim of a horrific accident after his father simply forgot to take him to day care, or did the man know the child was inside when he left him strapped in for seven hours?

A warrant supporting the murder charge against the father states that Harris stopped with his son for breakfast and also returned to put something inside his vehicle around lunchtime while the child was inside it.

Harris has told police he was supposed to drive his 22-month-old son to daycare but drove straight to work on June 18 without remembering the boy was strapped in his seat until the ride home. After spending the day at work, he pulled into a shopping center parking lot and hysterically asked for help for his son.

Harris put the toddler in a rear-facing car seat in the center of the back seat of his Hyundai Tucson after eating at a Chick-fil-A restaurant the morning of the boy’s death, the new warrant says. He then drove about 10 miles to work and left the child strapped into the car seat when he went inside, the warrant says.

At lunchtime, Harris returned to the vehicle and opened the driver’s side door to place an object inside and went back inside his workplace, the warrant says. It does not explain how the officer knows that.

Around 4:15 p.m., Harris left work and, soon after, pulled over at a shopping center and asked for help with his child, the warrant says. The child was left in the vehicle for about seven hours, the warrant says. The temperature that day was 88 degrees at 5:16 p.m., according to the first warrant in the case, filed the day after the child died.

Neighbors and acquaintances of Harris and his wife described them as loving parents.

Their landlord, Joe Saini, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the couple were “very, very nice” people who were in love with their baby.

“Everything was going right for this couple,” Saini said. “They wanted to buy a house so they could have some space for their child to run around the backyard.”


  • Sarah 1

    If premeditated, there shall be no mercy.
    Are children a convenience or disposable like a new car? Woe unto anyone who hurts a child or an animal.

  • sooner fan

    I agree SARAH 1. There will be a Special place for people that harm Children and I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes when they get there.

    • Christine

      I think the man gave us all a right to have an opinion about it,maybe not judge him ,that’s Gods job, but we have a right in this to say there is no way to justify what was done. A child is innocent and in no way deserved to be crying out for help for a man that should have loved him, but fed him his last meal them closed the door and said good bye,mad then at lunch….oh you are still alive?……like it is a chicken cooking in he oven…really? He better start praying but I have a feeling he has no idea about God.

  • Burger King

    After reading this, I wonder how many people started doing online searches for children dying in cars? Probably at least 3 to 5%. Hopefully, they will not forget and leave their child in the car after doing the search, only to be accused later of premeditated murder.

    • Sarah 300

      That is the nature of the beast. I looked it up myself but it was AFTER this death happened. Also, the police reports are available in Cobb County GA if you want to read any preliminary reports. The Atlanta Journal Constitution has numerous articles with more substantative information.
      The guy going out to the car at lunchtime was on video. Of course the misery was all over by then. I hope i am proven wrong but I always take the child’s point of view. The child relied on his father for love, safety and protection. Sadly, we may never know what evil lurks in the fathers mind.

  • phil

    Being a DAd I never was that Stupid to ever leave my baby in the car ever.
    He is now 14. Some people have no business having kids.they can’t look after themselves properly let alone a baby.

    • Sarah 300

      The premeditation would be prima facie evidence of looking up on his computer how long it would take a child to perish BEFORE this misery occurred.

  • Get Real

    Condemning this father on only the media/police reports is a mistake. Every one of those assuming his action was premeditated has made a mistake that, but for the grace of God, could have been fatal to someone. The father forgetting his son in the car is a tragedy, but doesn’t merit the condemnation of holier-than-thou hypocrites. As for the “prima facie evidence”, does every bit of information we look up on the internet prove “malice and aforethought”? This man will live with this horrific tragedy for the rest of his life, he needs no hate and scorn from the rest of us, he undoubtedly gets enough from himself. Accusations do not prove guilt, evidence does.

    • HL

      get real, You can try to sugar coat what he did, all you want. There is NO excuse for forgetting your own child in your car until he dies. And then going to the car at lunch time, and “forgetting” him AGAIN.

    • Jay

      What are the odds he researchers this on the internet and then his child dies the exact same way?? Come on!!

  • Fix Errors In Story

    Ummm, you have a huge error in this story. It was not 10 miles between Chick-Fil-A and his work, it was less than ONE mile. About a 3 minute drive.

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