Police Cast Suspicion on Story of Dad Whose Toddler Died in Hot Car

Babies left to die in hot cars. It's an tragic accident that terrifyingly can happen to anyone. But what if ... what if a baby is left to die in a car on purpose? That's what police think may have happened in Georgia on June 18.

Police were initially sympathetic to Justin Ross Harris after his 22-month-old son Cooper died after being left in his hot car for seven hours while he was at work, but he was charged with felony murder and child cruelty. The extreme charges caused a public backlash that resulted in 11,000 signature on a Change.org petition, but new details in the case released Tuesday have many questioning what really happened to this baby boy.


According to a revised Cobb County criminal warrant, Harris, 33, had placed Cooper in his rear-facing car seat mere moments before arriving at his workplace, a Home Depot corporate office. He and his son had had breakfast at a fast-food restaurant just a half a mile down the road.

Also, he returned to his car midday during his lunch break, and opened the driver's side door "to place an object into the vehicle." It wasn't until after 4 P.M. that Harris pulled into a shopping center four miles from work and asked bystanders for help with his toddler, whom he presumably just discovered.

Those details themselves may not be enough to claim that he had purposefully left the child in the car. People can forget things in a second -- maybe he almost got into an accident or something on the way to work, jarring his mind. And as for throwing something in the front seat of his car midday ... it was a rear-facing car seat. Why would he check it if he thought his kid was elsewhere?

But there are a couple more details emerging that definitely call for more investigation. For instance, Cooper's daycare was reportedly at the Home Depot corporate office where he worked. If his end of the day routine was to pick his kid up and head home, why didn't he discover him missing then? Why would he not be the one to pick him up on a daily basis?

Again, this is all just speculation, but things do not look good. Especially when you hear what the witnesses have to say ...Several said that Harris was acting bizarrely at the scene, and was making claims that his baby was "choking."

Edward Cockerham, 49, said, "I know he had lost his baby but he was acting up more than he should have been. It seemed like acting to me. When he pulled in and people started asking him what had happened, he said that the baby had just started choking ... But the baby didn’t look like it had been choking, it looked like it had been sweating, like it had been in a swimming pool, his hair was all wet."

"I think the dad knew all along that his baby was dead because he’d been left in the car," he continued. "I think he was looking round for a place where there was people so he could make it look like the baby had choked and it wasn't his fault."

Very fishy. I think it's every parent's worst nightmare to realize they had left a baby in a hot car all day -- wouldn't there be a sick realization of what you had done? Why would Harris think his son was choking, if the eyewitness reports are true?

And another source, reportedly someone from law enforcement, leaked that Harris had researched online how long it takes animals to die in hot cars at some point before he left Cooper in the car. Ugh.

Harris has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and child cruelty, and the boy's mother has been advised not to speak to the media.

More from The Stir: 11-Year-Old's Invention Could Save Thousands of Babies From Hot Car Tragedy

This is all just speculative, but dang, it's a lot to take in. Especially when you have police officers like Sgt. Dana Pierce claiming that his story hasn't added up from the very beginning. He said, "Within moments of the first responders getting to the scene and doing their job and questions began to be asked about the moments that led up to their arrival at the scene, some of those answers were not making sense to the first responders."

Pierce also claimed, "I've been in law enforcement for 34 years. What I know about this case shocks my conscience as a police officer, a father and a grandfather."

Whoa. This is such a crappy, no win situation. If Harris left his kid inthe car on purpose, then he murdered him. If it really was an accident, then we have a grieving father going through hell being accused of murder. Absolutely awful.

What questions do you have about this case?


Image via Cobb County Police Department

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