Wednesday, June 25, 2014

"I've Killed Our Child" Dad of Dead Toddler

The quote, "I've killed our child!" is hearsay.  It is what an eyewitness reported to the police regarding the 22 month old little boy who was allegedly left in the vehicle for 7 hours while the father went to work.

The Statement Analysis is presuming this to be his quote.  If it is not, the analysis should not be applied to this case.

It is very difficult to believe that someone could prep a toddler into a car seat and "forget" for 7 hours that the toddler was in the vehicle, while going in to work.  Interviews with co workers, and surveillance tape are critical.

Here are some analysis notes on the short quote:

"I've killed our child"

1.  May be an embedded confession.  Embedded confession is when someone frames the words that the guilty mind thinks, though not intending to confess.  Innocent people often avoid these words.  Sometimes readers confuse language entry.

Language Entry is when a subject enters the language of someone else.

Police:  "You killed your child!"

Subject:  "You think I killed my child?"

Here, the subject is not confessing, but literally entering or using the language of another.

"They think I killed my child" is to report what others "think."

2.  "child"

The word "child" and not "baby, son, kid, etc" (including name or nickname of toddler) is associated with risk.  Child abuse, child molester, child pornography, child protective services, and so on, are words that are associated with children at risk.  This can enter the language when someone perceives risk, or when someone is considering child abuse.

It may be that the child was abused.
It may be that the subject was abused in childhood.  When a subject refers to himself as "child" in recollection, it is a strong signal of abuse, which, if so, is 80% likely linked to childhood sexual abuse.

We note the word "child" in all statements to explore for child abuse.

3.  "our"

The overwhelming number of biological parents will say "my" child, taking ownership of the child.  When someone "shares" ownership, such as "our" child, there is a reason.

a.  Two parents together, speaking as one.
b.  The parents are adoptive, or foster parents
c.  There is a step parent involved (or someone acting in the role of step parent)
d.  There is divorce in discussion between parents and they are already thinking/talking of sharing custody
e.  There is a need to share guilt.

We do not know if this is his statement, but if it is, there are things to explore in the interview process, beyond the simple "I forgot" type of investigation (substance abuse, mental health, developmental disabilities, etc).

 It was a tragedy from the outset: a toddler found dead apparently after being left alone for hours in a hot car, a distraught father blaming himself and facing serious criminal charges.
Now, Cobb County, Georgia, police imply there is more -- much more -- to the story.
"Much has changed about the circumstances leading up to the death of this 22-month-old since it was first reported," Cobb County Police Sgt. Dana Pierce told CNN. He would not elaborate, citing an ongoing investigation, but his words made it clear this was not just another case of a young life left and lost to heat exposure in a hot car.
Shocking details in hot car death case
"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," said Pierce.
Mom: How can I forget my child in a car
Initially, Justin Ross Harris, 33, told Cobb County police that he accidentally left his toddler son in his SUV on Wednesday. According to police, Harris told them he had forgotten to drop the child off at a daycare center, before going to work.
Harris initially told police he realized that he'd left the boy strapped in his car seat as he drove home Wednesday afternoon.
Investigators say patrol officers were in the area of the Akers Mill Square shopping center in the suburban Atlanta county when dispatchers received the calls from witnesses around 4:20 p.m.
"He kept saying, 'What have I done? What have I done?'" Dale Hamilton told CNN affiliate WSB-TV.
"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 of Cobb County Police said.
On Thursday, Harris pleaded not guilty to felony murder and cruelty to children charges. He's being held without bond at the Cobb County Jail.
CNN spoke with the child's mother, Leanna Harris, on Friday. Harris says she's been advised not to discuss the case with the media.
"We have been in communication with the mother throughout the investigation. At this time, I'm not at liberty to discuss her involvement. That's a part of the case our detectives are working on," Pierce said.
Cobb County Medical Operations Manager Mike Gerhard confirmed that the autopsy of the child is complete, although there are some questions.
Cobb County detectives and the medical examiner are working together to confirm the manner and cause of death, Pierce said.
According to the arrest warrant, the temperature reached 88 degrees in the area on Wednesday. Police said medical personnel believed the child had been in the SUV since 9 a.m., as Harris said.

But Pierce told CNN on Friday, "I cannot confirm that the child, as originally reported, was in the car at 9 a.m."


John Mc Gowan said...



Anonymous said...

I would like to hope it was an accident, and his statements are from guilt (of his forgetting), is that possible?

Although, I too, can't understand how someone can forget their child is in the car. I think it does happen, on rare occasion, like someone else mentioned previously, like if it is out of routine for a certain parent to have the child in their car to begin with. But, like in this case, it didn't cross his mind for 7 hours? Plus there are reports that he parked elsewhere that day, apparently not where he normally parks (not in employee parking I think it was reported?), I think there was a couple other oddities, I can't remember them. Although I hope it was a true accident, it sounds like investigators are leaning the other way.

Anonymous said...

I had a friend visit recently. A guy he had known since childhood had died from an OD. My friend thinks he killed several people. He was seen hanging out with a prostitute who later vanished and the cops were digging for her body in a field near his house.
He saw our mutual friend and came up to him saying "They think I killed that girl" by way of a greeting. He also said of the investigation "they'll never find her".
Now he is dead and that is probably for the best.

JenB said...

If he indeed was shouting, "What have I done?!" and throwing his hands into the air, that sets off an alarm for me. I would think it would be hard for a parent to accept, at that moment, 1) that it was *done* -- that the child was dead with no chance of being brought back, and 2) that the parent himself had "done" it. I would think the initial response would be rejection of the whole situation; a mental state of "No, this isn't happening," "No, he can't be dead," "No, this isn't real." I think I would be in heavy denial for hours and hours, trying to convince myself it was a bad dream that I could wake myself from if I tried hard enough.

The report this morning that he and his son had breakfast together and then he drove to work less than a mile from the restaurant disturbs me. The child couldn't go to sleep in such a short amount of time, and I don't think you could forget your child on such a short drive. Was it a goodbye breakfast?

There was also info that he returned to the car and put something inside it during his lunch break. NO WAY he didn't notice the child, if he did this and it was just a car rather than a large van. Was he checking to see whether his son was dead yet?

I am interested to find out what really happened, and why a person would do something like this. Poor little Cooper.

John Mc Gowan said...

Following on from JenBs post.

Warrant: Dad checked on car while son was inside

During a lunch break on June 18, murder suspect Justin Harris went out to the Hyundai Tucson where his 22-month-old son was still strapped in, dropped something off, then left the car and little Cooper Harris before returning to work, according to a new warrant released Wednesday by the Atlanta Police Department and obtained by HLN.

Harris is being charged with murder and second-degree child cruelty in the death of Cooper, who died after being left inside his dad's SUV. Justin Harris has told police he forgot that Cooper was inside the car and that his son's death was an accident.

Read more: Was toddler's death an accident or intentional?

According to the warrant, Harris placed Cooper in his car seat after the two had breakfast June 18 at a Chick-Fil-A in suburban Atlanta, Georgia. He says he didn't realize Cooper was still in the car until he was driving home from work that day, approximately seven hours later.

Fact Check: How often are kids left in hot cars?

The new information in the criminal warrant claims that "during lunch said accused did access the same vehicle through the driver's side door to place an object into the vehicle. Said accused then closed the door and left the car, re-entering his place of business."

Harris is currently being held without bond.

You can read the full criminal warrant below.

Atlchanel said...

Daily mail has some interesting comments from witnesses at the scene about how Harris was acting.

Anonymous said...

A couple of years ago Gene Wiengarten did a story on parents who leave their children in hot cars in the Washington Post. Called "FAtal Distraction", I think he won a Pulitzer for it. It was heartbreaking. A few facts I remember: younger children who are not very vocal and who are strapped in rear-facing car seats are more vulnerable - parents may not realize they are in the car. It is more likely to happen when something interrupts the parent's routine. For example, usually mom does morning dropoff at daycare, but today dad has to do it for some reason,and he goes into "autopilot", not remembering that the routine has been switched today until it is too late.

There was a case in Massachusetts some years ago when a baby who was the youngest in a large family died in the minivan in the driveway. In the chaos of coming home from an outing and bringing in all the bags etc. everyone thought someone else had the baby.

Another story involved ababy who died in the car in the driveway while his entire family celebrated his christening in the house. Everyone thought someone else had gotten the baby out of the car.

It can happen, even to conscientious parents. Recommendations to avoid this disaster include leaving your purse or briefcase in the back seat, so that you must reach in past the car seat when you get out of the car, and using a backseat mirror so that you can see the baby's face from your rearview mirror when he/she is in the rear-facing car seat.

Unknown said...

Taking into account the police statement that what he knows about this case shocks his conscience as an officer , father , etc...and the mother of the child refusing to speak by stating she has been advised not to talk to the media (lawyered up) guess is that this story will grow more disturbing by the day!

Atlchanel said...

Breaking news. Dad looked up "how long does it take to kill an animal in a car" on his work computer!

Anonymous said...

holy! I at first assumed it was an accident -- then I thought --- he wants it to look like an accident. nobody forgets their child for that long when they aren't on drugs.

Anonymous said...

do you havew link to daily mail article?

Jeffssis said...

Yes. A link please.

John Mc Gowan said...

EXCLUSIVE: As 11,000 sign petition to release father charged with murder of toddler son who died in 91F car, we reveal the disturbing behavior that will make his supporters think twice
Justin Ross Harris, 33, from Marietta, Georgia, has been charged with murder of son, Cooper, aged 22 months
He claims he went to work at Home Depot, forgot to drop Cooper off at daycare, and only discovered his tragic mistake seven hours later
But witnesses on the day say he was acting 'odd' and claimed at first that Cooper was choking
Witness Ed Cockerham told MailOnline: 'I know he had lost his baby but he was acting up more than he should have been. It seemed like acting to me'
He added that the parking lot where the drama unfolded was a ten-minute drive from where Harris worked
'He had a lot of time to look in his mirror or look round to see the baby,' Cockerham added
Police said on Wednesday that Harris actually RETURNED to his car at lunch while at work to put something in the front passenger seat
But an online petition has been launched with 11,000 signatures supporting Harris' release - saying he is a great dad - and seeing his son die is punishment enough
But police are sticking to the murder charge. 'Much has changed about the circumstances leading up to the death of this 22-month-old since it was first reported,' said Cobb County Police Sgt. Dana Pierce

Mhysa said...

This is not new, sadly - in fact, purposefully leaving children to die of heat and exposure predates the automobile. People used to place unwanted infants into pots on the side of roads (it was called "potting") and leave them behind - either to die or to be claimed by passerby. I constrast it to how people treat their garbage in current times - leaving it on the side of the road and hoping someone comes to pick it up.

It makes me very sad when I picture this in my head and since I have a good imagination, it comes easily. Hot, dusty roads with clay pottery on the side, either containing screaming babies, dying of thirst or bleached bones where a small child used to be. They died alone, without names, without a chance, without justice to ease their passings and without being mourned or missed. Very sad.

On the breaking news, I'd like to read more about it - do you have a link, altchanel? If this "man" truly searched for this before his son died of exposure in a hot car, he is a murderer and a moron.

JenB said...

Atlchanel, where did you see that he'd looked up that search on his work computer?

I have a lot if sympathy for parents to whom this has happened in a true accident. I think it could happen to just about anyone. When my kids were babies I wouldn't listen to the radio while they were in the car because I was so afraid I'd get distracted and forget them. I talked or sang to them the whole time.

My kids were also very chatty by 22 months, though, and they were forward-facing by then.I'd like to hear what type of car seat Cooper used, and how verbal he was. If he was a very quiet child or had an enormous car seat, I guess it is possible his dad could have missed him during the lunch visit to the car... But wouldn't there have been a smell to the car? Even a sweaty kid or diaper smell?

And then how did the dad claim to have noticed him during the drive home?

Anonymous said...

Omg how awful. :'(

Here's another one I was trying to give the benefit of the doubt.

I can't understand how or why people do things like this. If they don't want their kids, someone else would gladly want them and love them. Why do such a horrible thing to an innocent child?

Jo said...

I think baby may have been dead already that morning. Do they have proof they had breakfast together? Was the hot car a cover up for another accident or negligence?
Witness said babies knees/legs were stiff when placed on the ground. Would that occur within hours?

JenB said...

It says here that he called his wife and told her, "Our baby is dead." If true, this guy's story has just jumped the shark. No way would a caring person break such awful news in that manner. Wonder if he did it to hurt his wife, or if it was some weird plan of theirs.

Atlchanel said... I don't know how to link, but this is a local reporter. He claims he was told about an anonymous source in LE about the computer search. I assume it to be true, but who knows?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

yeah - reaching into the car at mid day -- the scent would habe been intense. no way he missed it. surely he was checking to see if baby was dead yet.

this is 1st degree murder/

revenge on mother would be my first guess for motivation. and would explain why he did not soften the blow when telling her.

Anonymous said...

That link has the allegation of the search on his work computer.

After reading the description of Cooper by witnesses, I'm so saddened. I can't imagine what that poor little boy went through.

Anonymous said...

Agree this case is suspicious but I do not find it hard to believe that someone would forget their baby. It happens several times a year in this country. Usually the baby is in a rear-facing seat, asleep, and is being driven by someone who doesn't usually drop him/her off (or else there is some other change in the routine that morning).

Anonymous said...

phone activity from 3am til 6am.....
in actuality phone activity stopped at 3:41am. was the extension of the time slot to 6am, "alibi building" to cover the time it took to dispose of her body?

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:33, yes it does sometimes happen, and I tried to give this guy the benefit of the doubt, but sadly I don't think it was an accident, IF the reports are true. Some of the reports are: he had JUST had breakfast with him, 10 minutes before getting to work, his work computer showed a search for, how long does it take for an animal to die in a car, supposedly the daycare is located at his work (some kind of Home Depot headquarters or something), so he apparently didn't go to pick up his son either after work. Idk, we'll see.

Anonymous said...

anon, 3:48 -- not sure what this is in response to now but know what you are reffering to and always wondered exact same thing. or just that at 6 a.m. was when "clean up" was complete, and so that time stuck in their head

Anonymous said...

I think he was immitating an accident./ I think this is the strategy or killers sometimes -- they immitate a scenerio where the victime would die by accident --

there's the classic - oh that perseon drowned accidentally in that same lake two kids drowned in last summer. yeah -- but the water in this person's lungs is freshwater and they are found in salt water lake. oooh -- somebodr drowned them in bathtub then made it look likethey fell in lake, etc :) whatever. ...stuff like that. it's a good plan for a murderer, and probably what a lot of them try.

Mhysa said...

In regards to imitating an accident as a murder, it is not a good plan. Being charged for murder is not the end result of a good plan, by definition: agree/disagree?

If it's considered a good plan by most murderers, that's wonderful news. It means that killers are getting stupid and lazy and thus easier to catch and convict.

Anonymous said...

My heart breaks for that beautiful baby boy. Hopefully he just went to sleep, became unconscious and died. I can't bear to think of the other possibilities.


sidewalk super said...

My guess is dad drugged his child prior to using the car seat. And I'd bet his car was parked in his work lot where there was little traffic. The shopping center where he staged his performance doesn't seem to be in his commuting or pick up from baby sitting direction, but most telling is that anyone related to him or his wife has totally clammed up. But we don't see tears or hysterics when doors slam on the reporters. Their lawyers won't let them talk....blah...blah. So far, reporters haven't interviewed co-workers which might shed some light on how he projects at work.
And this local petition to release the dad "because we know he's a nice guy" gives some insight into how isolated we all have become from each other.

And, thanks to Peter's lessons and repetitions here, it is easy to hear the dad's language as discordant, not what I would expect under the circumstances.
Poor baby.

sidewalk super said...

And cars left locked up in the sun in Georgia heat become crock pots in very little time. Local newspapers continually run warnings about pets and children in locked car and the local citizenry usually
is quick to take action if they see something amiss.

Betty said...

Should he have called his wife and said, "I killed my son?" Say it out loud.
My son. The only name that sounds right is "I've killed Cooper." or 'our.'
Performance. Nice. He was supposedly speaking to his wife over the phone.
I would like to reflect at you that for the few that (11K) are raising money, there are many, many more circling with stones. Based on presumption, analysis of eyewitness interpretation of the events and their own ideas of how THEY would have reacted. None of us can know. Everyone just drop your dollars and your bricks and wait for the STATEMENT.

Anonymous said...

He put the child in a backwards-facing car seat. Once a child reaches 12 months they no longer use that kind of seat, they are placed in a forward-facing car seat. This little boy was 22 months old, way too big for that seat. I think the father did not want to see the eyes of his son, knowing he was about to leave him to die.


Unknown said...

Hi Brosnanfan-

You may be right about not wanting to face his son, but the guidelines actually have changed.

Now they recommend that a child stay rear facing as long as possible, as the child is less likely to be injured in a crash than in a forward facing position. As long as the child's legs are not too long, and until they weigh up to 35-40lbs they remain rear-facing. (This is in a reversible carset, not an infant bucket seat which is ONLY used rear facing, up to about 20lbs.)

They also recommend a 5-point harness up to 60lbs, and booster seat until 80lbs! (Basically the size of a small adult! I practically memorized the guidelines while carseat shopping for my little guy. He is a bit tall, and it was tough to find a 5-point that fit his torso without pinching his legs or scrunching him, even in the tallest setting.)

Anonymous said...

The American academy of pediatrics now recommends all children be in rear facing car seats to 2 years old and as long as possible if they still meet the requirements for that seat. My son was still rear facing at that point. The choking story really has me wondering. Did he give the baby food on the way to his work and did he choke to death without him knowing until he attempted to take him out of the seat? There was definitely something going on. I am curious for all the details to come out.

Anonymous said...

Oh I didn't realize they released the cause of death.

Anonymous said...

Carseat- I noted the same thing, & likely EMS/FD did too bc many are trained on proper installation for programs providing free safety checks. 20 pounds is what was standard weight for facing carseat forward. Obviously their little legs get too long to not.
And although I hate to repeat what gave me a horrific mental image-- it most likely added to the initial suspicion by LE when coupled with the carseat's position. One eyewitness said the little guys legs were frozen in a bent position, when they removed him & laid him on the ground. The knees suspended above his hips. And based upon grayish coloring, had been so for quite some time.
So if staged, not hard to suppose the father reversed the seat to make it seem more believable with baby less visible. Although calculating & evil, probably not very intelligent, & failed to factor standard protocols on carseats.
Also read they are currently trying to determine the mothers involvement if any. Apparently they aren't willing to absolve her of being a part to just yet.

sidewalk super said...

Were that me driving around with my child's body and realizing he was inert, I would have been screaming, shrieking the baby's name , yelling for help. I would not be telling anyone that "I" had done anything because I would be so absorbed with the child that I wouldn't care about "ME".

By the by, the area and specific location where this presumably occurred is side by side with a major freeway, a very busy 4 lane (at least) road on another side, a major shopping center within 1/2 mile, numerous traffic lights on multi-lane Hwy 41 before this father ever got to the shopping center where he finally stopped.
This father had help available in almost every direction had he chosen to use it.
UUMMMM, is there any kind of insurance involved?

JenB said...

The car seat facing backward is truly a non-issue as far as anything nefarious, UNLESS they'd already turned his seat forward-facing and the dad had recently switched it back. In a collision kids are safest rear-facing and parents are now advised to keep babies rear-facing as long as possible.

Anonymous said...

Here is an opportunity to analyze a video of a reported victim of munchausen by proxy!4gbMr

charlotte from denmark said...

As long as parents (or others) keep getting free passes for forgetting their children in hot cars, this method of killing children will continue.

A murder charge is the only possible outcome if you leave a child to boil to death in your car, and I dont care if you forgot him/her or not!

Just as a single parent deserves a murder charge if some new step parent kills the child.

It is our job as parents to protect our children, and if we fail, we shall pay.