Sunday, June 29, 2014

Mother of Dead Child ALSO Researched Death in Car

How could the mother of the dead child speak so lovingly of her husband, who is suspected of murdering their toddler?

Warrants Show Parents of 22-Month-Old Cooper Harris Researched Child Deaths in Hot Cars

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New Details in Toddler's Death

Newly released court documents show that the mother of the 22-month-old who died in a hot SUV in Georgia had also searched online information about kids dying in cars, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
According to search warrant affidavits, Leanna Harris was also questioned by authorities and made similar statements about researching car deaths. The timing of those online searches and investigators' findings have not been released. The AJC reports Harris has not been identified as a suspect in the death of her son, Cooper.
Cooper's father, 33-year-old Justin Ross Harris, is in jail without bond and told police he used the Internet to research child deaths in vehicles and what temperature it needs to be for that to occur, police said. The warrant doesn't specify when he did the searches.
"Justin stated that he was fearful that this could happen," one of the four warrants released to The Associated Press stated.
Cooper died on June 18 after his father left the toddler in the vehicle for seven hours while he went to work at an Atlanta-area Home Depot. Harris has pled not guilty to murder and second-degree cruelty to a child, CNN reports.
The new information seemed to fuel investigator's allegations that Harris committed a "more serious crime" than simple negligence. But at the boy's funeral in Tuscaloosa Saturday afternoon, his mother Leanna Harris spoke publicly for the first time and painted a very different picture of her husband as a loving father who made a terrible mistake.
"Am I angry with Ross?" Leanna Harris said at the service. "Absolutely not. It has never crossed my mind. Ross is and was and will be, if we have more children, a wonderful father. Ross is a wonderful daddy and leader for our household. Cooper meant the world to him."
Harris is being held without bond at the Cobb County Jail, but he spoke at his son's service by telephone.
"Thank you for everything you've done for my boy," CNN reports he said to the audience via speakerphone. "Good life. (Inaudible) No words to say. Just horrible. (Inaudible) I'm just sorry I can't be there."
Harris told police he was supposed to drive his son to day care that morning but drove to work without realizing that his son was strapped into a car seat in the back. Harris put his son, Cooper, in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat of his Hyundai Tucson after eating at a Chick-fil-A restaurant the morning of the boy's death, the arrest warrant says. He then drove 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, opened the driver's side door and placed an object inside before going 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. Harris told police he was on his way to meet friends after work when he realized his son was in the back seat and pulled into a shopping center to get help, according to the warrants.
The child was left in the vehicle for about seven hours, the warrant says. The ambient outdoor air 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.
The Cobb County Medical Examiner's Office said Wednesday that toxicology results are still pending but that it believes the cause of death was hyperthermia and the manner of death was homicide. Hyperthermia is a condition in which the temperature of the body spikes due to the heat.
Police searched the Marietta, Georgia condo where the family lives, looking for a laptop, electronic devices documents, photographs and any "evidence of child neglect, child abuse." They also searched Harris' cellphone and the light blue 2011 Hyundai Tucson that Harris was driving when his son died.
USA Today reports that a total of 11 search warrants will be released this weekend and more information is expected to be released in the next 48 hours.
"They're definitely going to look at how healthy was the child, the family's previous history, whether dad was usually somebody who was very responsible," she said. "And the defense, if this reaches a trial, will be collecting their evidence that he was a good parent, a fit parent."
Cobb County Police Chief John Houser said Wednesday that he understands tragic accidents happen, but evidence indicates a "more serious crime" has been committed. He didn't elaborate on what the evidence was.
"The chain of events that occurred in this case do not point toward simple negligence and evidence will be presented to support this allegation," Houser said in a message released by the department.
But neighbors and acquaintances of Harris and his wife tell a very different story, describing them as loving parents. Harris is a native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and moved to Georgia in 2012 to work for Home Depot.
Their landlord, Joe Saini, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Harris and his wife are "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."
Cory Burns, a police officer in Tuscaloosa, said Harris worked for the department as a dispatcher. Burns said his wife, Valissa, worked as a dispatcher alongside Harris and remembers that he and his wife were eager to have children but had some trouble conceiving.
Cory Burns remembers Harris as "a pretty happy guy, always down to earth." Harris brought his son back for to the department a visit recently, Burns said.
"Everyone's praying for him and his family," he said. "It's tragic."
The Associated Press contributed to this report. 


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wreyeter72 said...

Insurance $? This is awful.

Tania Cadogan said...

If the mother also looked up child deaths in hot cars, i wonder if this was premditated between them.
It would also explain her support of her husband in the death of their child whch is unexpected.

This leads me then to wonder about the health of the child, was he their bio child or a result of ivf etc.

Were there difficulties in the family between the parents such as financial, infidelity, work etc?

Was there insurance on the child?
if so what for and for how much?

When did the mother do this research?
If after the death of her child it would be understandable, if before then they have a problem as it smacks of premeditation.

It's akin to dipietro telling Trista he was worried someone would take Baby Ayla.

It is announcing what will happen.

Anonymous said...

I cannot imagine both parents wanting to be rid of their baby. And then deciding on such a horrible way to do it. The statement about "if we have more children" seems to be extra information and I would guess they already decided against more children.
Was there any witnesses to them eating breakfast? I am thinking baby could have died overnight and parents made look like an accident. Especially if both searched the internet for death in car the day of baby's death.

Anonymous said...

I would expect Justin to say Cooper's name more.

Skeptical said...


Your concise, well-chosen words have taken the questions right out of my mouth. After the DiPietro case, the question of insurance on toddlers and children does become a cause for concern

Anonymous said...

The mother said the toddler had spent the last two nights of his life snuggled in bed with the couple, and she missed him “with all of my heart.”

last two nights... so it wasn't an everyday thing. when they switched it up and let the kid sleep in their bed, it was something they were not experienced in doing. i wonder if one of them rolled over on the kid and he died. so they pretended to do the forgot kid in car thing.

OldPsychNurse said...

I'm still shaking my head that this narcissist used a jail phone to call into a RELIGIOUS service for his son (NOT him), so he could make a statement. Compounding this contemptuous act, he took no responsibility for broiling his toddler to death in his statement.

Anonymous said...

I find this very disturbing, what I would NOT expect a grieving mother to say, "Cooper’s funeral was Saturday, June 28. At the funeral reports Leanne, “said she misses her son deeply, but finds solace knowing Cooper is shielded from knowing the pain of a broken heart, from mourning the death of his own loved ones and from being exposed to the hard truths of a world that she called broken.”"

Betty said...

He was almost two so there's no way someone could roll over on top of him and crush him without waking up. Plus, a roll over accident brings far less stigma than a hot car/baking death. It would be a far better story.

Anonymous said...

Perfect!? turned our life upside down!? Doing this for him (husband)!? Sick woman. Something not right here."First of all Ross, I love you and I'm doing this for you, OK?" ..."Two years ago when we welcomed a 6-pound, 8-ounce perfect baby into the world, this never crossed my mind."..."He was perfect, and he is perfect," she said of Cooper. "He changed mine and Ross' life. I've talked to you about the magnitude in which he changed it. As children do, he turned our lives upside down"

Anonymous said...

Exactly what I thought when I read he turned their lives upside down? odd statement to make at your sons funeral! Too many coincidences, I don't know if a jury will convict with a guilty verdict but as a mom I say morally guilty.

Anonymous said...

When somebody researches a subject it usually enhances your knowledge of that certain information. If they both researched the topic wouldn't they be more prepared to not allow such a tragedy to their son? He also looked at what temperature it needed to be to cause death in a closed vehicle!! That's not a coincidence. Then the non-grieving mother of her 22 month old son is just very weird along with her researching the topic, the two nights he HAD to sleep with them is def out of routine it's def a clue, the dad forgets about his son twice. He not only forgets to drop him off at daycare but he forgot to pick him up as well, he drove off in a different direction than the daycare, plus wouldn't the car smell awful when he visited it on his lunchbreak? That little boy died in that hot car and I can't imagine the awful pain he endured. I hope they keep on talking.

Anonymous said...

"am I angry at Ross...absolutely not".."it never crossed my mind" (said twice at least)..and then ", has raised more than $22,000 for the Harris family.", that would be a nice down payment on a house they were looking for..."wonderful daddy..wonderful father"... meant the world, not love him?!

Kathead said...

I tried to post this earlier from my phone, but I swiped the page to the side and lost it all.

I think the mom's last cherished memory was the last time she saw him alive. I think the two nights of trouble sleeping affected the parents more and either one of them lost their temper and something happened, or they could have given Cooper medicine to make him sleep and overdosed him.

I think that they are covering for each other. They both researched it, and the dad probably felt he had the best chance of "getting away with forgetting his child in a hot car" since typically, the men aren't the ones responsible for dropping the kids off at daycare.

I've seen news stories in the past (and that same CSI episode-the kid in that episode didnt have Tays-Sachs, it was the chemicals from mom's gardening that was affecting him and making him show similar symptoms) and the father was seemingly excused/not charged because he forgot to drop the kid off at daycare because the wife usually did it.

If my husband "forgot" one of my kids in the car and they died as a result, I would not be as forgiving as this woman. I don't think any mother would. Maybe it WAS an accident but I would expect anger directed at the person responsible. It's a normal reaction.

Her reaction is weird and not expected.

Anonymous said...

I'm still guessng the baby had autism or something like that and it was just showing up and the parents decided together they didn't want to deal.

Anonymous said...

they plotted together but the father did the dirty work.

Anonymous said...

I think they slept with them in their bed because they knew they were saying goodbye.

Anonymous said...

Anyone else wonder if they killed him thinking they were sending him to heaven. So much mention of death like its a good thing! From their pics and descriptions by the neighbors they appear to have loved Cooper very much. They look so happy in their pics. I think these people are very weird. They are heavy into religion and highly participatory in the church. That coupled with talk of broken worlds and being grateful that Cooper wouldn't experience these broken things makes me think they were doing him a favor.

Anonymous said...

For the people who think that something happened to the baby and the car death is a cover-up,it's been reported that the father took the boy into Chik Fil A for breakfast that morning. If true, that would at least indicate that he was alive when he left home. When I look at the boy's sweet face, I can't help but wonder what Mom would not be upset about the circumstances that led to his death. Something just isn't right here.

Tania Cadogan said...

CCTV would show if they had breakfast there and if it was eat in then it would show father and son.
This could be telling if the cctv shows only the father eating in or if they had a take out (and the father says they ate in)

The mom's language is concerning, why would she talk about him being spared the pain of losing a loved one or living in a broken world?
He wasn't even 2, what parents thinks like that, especially at funerals?

Was this perhaps an altruistic killing?
They thought they were perhaps doing him a favor?
Health issues, strong religious beliefs that they thought he was destined for hell unless they killed him whereupon he was guaranteed a place in heaven?

That both parents researched this makes me think it was more believable as an accident as is often seen in the news, than perhaps another manner of death such as drowning or smothering which couldn't be so easily explained away.
I also wonder if he was sedated in some way so that he would simply have drifted off to sleep.
it would seem to their thinking kinder as he wouldn't have suffered, rather than have him screaming hysterically as he cooked to death in the car.

What is clear is both parents need to be polygraphed and the right questions asked
better yet a statement analyst who could ask questions based on the subjects answers.
It would be interesting to hear the father's explanations as to why he didn't see or smell his child in the car at lunchtime?
Why the change in behavior that day?
Why he parked in a different place to normal?
Why he didn't go to the creche to collect his son?
How he managed not to see or smell his child at home time?
Why he lied about the child choking etc.

prescott said...

The more I see about this case, the more I think that the comments saying the baby may have been atypical in some way or had health issues and the parents found out and decided to "spare" him may be correct.

Poor beautiful boy, if my husband forgot about him and he died as a result, I would be livid and crushed.

RIP sweet Cooper, so tragic and this just defies any rational explanation.

BostonLady said...

The mother's statements are highly disturbing. If my husband did that to one of my children, I wouldn't be saying nice things about him at the funeral. I doubt I'd be able to speak at all. She is too calm about this.

Another thing (among many) that bothers me about this is that the father went out to his car at noon to allegedly put something on the front seat. I can't help but think that he went out to check to see if the baby had passed. If that is true, he is more than a monster.

I was talking to a friend about this case and she said she had just read a short story about parents who murdered their child the same way, leaving him in the car. The child had a disability. I'm going to ask her for the name of the story.


AdamJacobAaronsMama said...

This case keeps getting stranger by the day. First, it appeared a tragic accident and I was sympathetic. Then it appeared the father had planned the demise of Cooper, which I had thought was maybe for insurance money or revenge. Then I see a calm, serene mother who is very accepting of the baby's death, in fact somewhat relieved and thankful for it, if you ask me. Very bizarre. I'm leaning either to the child being killed as a form of "mercy," (medically) OR, they killed the child thinking he was guaranteed a place in heaven. In which case, I'd suspect any and all of their future children to also die before starting school... It will be interesting to see if he had any medical conditions, recent diagnoses, or if their is any evidence of fanaticism concurrent with the known evidence.

Anonymous said...

I think someone already brought this up, but I was wondering about the 911 call. From the reports, it seems like he didn't call, but most likely a witness did. If that's the case, is that maybe the reason why he drove all that way? To basically find an audience, and so he didn't have to call 911 himself?

elf said...

I wonder what the mom was doing that day?

Anonymous said...

maybe it's the religion thing. if it was a kinda cult or something. or they just took doctin to their own extreme

ima.grandma said...

Hi elf, I have been thinking the same thing. I wonder if she had a job outside the home. I always question stay-at-home moms consistently putting their kids in daycare so they have the day to themselves. We have obviously heard about Home Depot but no support from the mom's employment. My guess is she stays home but still takes her little baby for someone else to care for. Please don't beat me up, I was a home mom when mine were young. She has alluded to the time and energy that must be devoted to a baby, perhaps it was too much for her.

JenC said...

I've wondered about the mother since I read the obituary. It mentions that Cooper was "protected" by both parents and is now "protected" by Jesus. That being in the obit started me wondering if the mom and dad planned it together - either because they had begun to think the world was too evil or if they had begun to discover that the boy had some kind of health issue? IDK - I just thought the family using the word "protected" twice in the obit like that was weird.

elf said...

I wonder who wrote the obituary? And I wonder what faith they are? Maybe I should change my name to 'I wonder' lol its like they aren't saying enough, and what little we see is riddled with red flags.
Today I asked my boyfriends 18 year old daughter what happens if you leave a baby in a car and she answered right off "the baby will die because summer turns cars into ovens, duh." I asked her how she knows and she said common sense.
She's not a parent. I doubt she has researched the topic. She doesn't have a license to drive or a car. Yet she knows.

elf said...

I believe fox news said the autopsy said Cooper died from hyperthermia.

Anonymous said...

For those thinking he was deceased before the dad went into work, I read somewhere that the cause of death was indeed hyperthermia which says he died in the car due to the heat.

I think they did it deliberately but I do believe he died in the car.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the kid liked the color pink and preferred to play with dolls and they couldn't handle that.

Anonymous said...

There were 4 hospitals in the immediate vicinity of the pizza place where Harris pulled over to "render aid" to his son. I guess he figured customers in the parking lot of a strip mall made a better audience for his histrionics than trained medical staff.

And no, he didn't call 911 - he asked a witness to. Also, he started CPR and then another witness took over while Harris made phone calls.

"What have I done? I've killed our child!" indeed....

Oh, and how about mom:

"He was perfect, and he is perfect," she said of Cooper.

He "is" perfect? She said this at Cooper's funeral, as the little boy lay in his coffin.

S + K Mum said...

Just can't put my finger on it....they both planned it by the sound of it, but why?
Maybe the mother just couldn't cope. I am curious about what else may have been researched by the couple along with the car/ heat info. Cause of death has been ascertained but I can't help thinking it was to hide something else that was going on in Coopers body. It's just too awful to think they would do something so slow and torturous, ie if it was a 'mercy killing' they may have planned something quicker that would look accidental. So awful :(

GeorgiaSuzy said...

Is there any possibility the searches were from earlier this year when people in the area were stranded in their cars for hours during harsh winter storms? It was freezing cold outside, and national news covered how people were stuck in traffic jams at grave risk from the cold. That would make sense to me; I even Googled about it at the time.

Lucy said...

Is there independent confirmation of Mom's searching "death in hot car" or is it simply her word? Because if it is only her word, maybe she is saying that to protect dad, like, "So what? I searched the same thing!" to justify the fact that he had made that search. Like, everybody does it, no big deal.

I have also researched that topic, because forgetting my child in a hot car was something I feared. Unlike this guy however, my research made me hypervigilant, so that I could not leave my car without first touching the carseat base in the back seat.

Imamom said...

Just a thought, but maybe they were researching child deaths in hot cars because they were trying to save money by not taking the child to daycare, and they wanted to make sure it wasn't 'too hot' to leave the child in the car? That might explain the dads visit to the car during the day, to check on the child and give food/drink. I worked with a girl once who brought her two children to work with her one day and left them in the car because she couldn't find a sitter and was afraid of being fired if she missed work. Needless to say, someone saw the children, and the girl was fired anyway. So jointly, they could have decided to skip daycare, but unfortunately the outcome was the tragic death of their child.

Anonymous said...

Usually daycare is paid for in advance. You're usually paying for the next week, not the week you're in, know what I mean? Plus, a lot of them even require the last week or two in advance, plus two +/- weeks notice upon leaving the daycare. I'm sure there are plenty of different rules at all different daycares, but that's pretty much the norm where I'm from. It's not like day-to-day, like if they didn't bring him one day, they wouldn't have to pay that day. His daycare seems to have been on-site, so maybe it was different.

Anonymous said...

This whole thing is just creepy. I feel certain that if I had done any research on hyperthermia (10 years, 10 months or 10 hours ago), I would then be hyper-vigilant in avoiding such a fate for any living thing that might EVER be in my vehicle. I also feel that the mother made conflicting statements during the funeral, noting that she would not wish her child back to life because the world is broken, but later stating her husband had been and would be a wonderful father if they decide to have more children. How is the world "too broken" to want back the child you just lost yet okay for future children you might have? If these people pull off a defense that sets them free to produce more babies I will lose what little faith Casey Anthony's aquittal hasn't already destroyed.

Betty said...

I see the whole, "good leader for our family" as peculiar. It has nothing to do with the loss of their child. It's not only a defense of him, its also a statement of trust in his judgment, self and other aggrandizing and it is incongruent with the results. It also exonerates her a little by making it sound like he did what was best for the family. Her subtext seeps like sewage in ground water as she speaks... she sounds defensive, Im doing this for you Cooper, ok?
I never imagined this.
WHAT IS THIS? Define this, mom.
I think this was a joint decision and I suspect the mom talked the dad into it over a period of time. Rationalizing, talking themselves into it, with all the emotion and abdication of reality, and on a par with, a family in foreclosure buying a luxury vehicle cause they have the Wants.

Unknown said...

If the father is forgetful about leaving his son in hot car, instead of googling what temperature for a toddler to die in a hot car it will make lots of sense searching this question: " What reminders are available so I WILL NOT forget my son in a hot car"