Mom also researched child deaths in cars, according to police

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COBB COUNTY, Ga. — Leanna Harris, the mother of a Georgia toddler who died locked in a hot car, has told authorities that she previously researched such deaths and how they occur, according to a police affidavit.

Her husband, Justin Ross Harris, the child’s father, who is in jail without bond, has also told police that he used the Internet to research child deaths in vehicles and what temperature it needs to be for death to occur, police said.

“Justin stated that he was fearful that this could happen,” the police affidavit said.

In the document released Sunday, police say that during questioning Leanna Harris “made similar statements regarding researching in car deaths and how it occurs.”

Their son, Cooper Harris, who was 22 months old when he died June 18, was buried after a funeral Saturday in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Leanna Harris emphatically told a crowd at her son’s funeral she loves and stands by her husband, even though he is charged with murder in the child’s death.

“Am I angry with Ross?” Leanna Harris said Saturday. “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.”

Police said Justin Ross Harris told them he forgot to drop his 22-month-old son at the day care center before going to work. The boy died after spending seven hours in a child safety seat in the back of an SUV.

Harris was arrested hours after his son’s death and has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and second-degree child cruelty.

The affidavit was filed in the application for a search warrant used to seize computers from the Harris home.

A timeline of events

On the day Cooper died, his father stopped for breakfast at a fast-food restaurant and afterward strapped his son into a rear-facing child restraint seat on his SUV’s back seat, police said.

He drove to his workplace, a Home Depot corporate office, about a half-mile away. He works as a Web designer there.

Usually, he would take his son to an on-site day care. But that day, police said, Harris left him in the car seat.

During his lunch break, he returned to his car, opening the driver’s side door to put something inside, police said.

After work, around 4:16 p.m., the 33-year-old father got in his car and drove away. A few miles away, he stopped the car at a shopping center and called for help.

When it became clear Cooper was dead, Harris was so inconsolable police had to restrain him.

“What have I done?” he wailed as he tried to resuscitate the boy.

The Cobb County medical examiner’s office found the child’s cause of death “consistent with hyperthermia and the investigative information suggests the manner of death is homicide,” according to a Cobb County Department of Public Safety statement issued last week. Temperatures hit 92 degrees Fahrenheit on the day of Cooper’s death.

The medical examiner’s office is waiting for toxicology test results before making an official ruling as to the cause and manner of the toddler’s death.


  • FaithC

    That child is a little big for a rear facing car seat. Most seats are turned to front facing around 6 or 8 months of age. Did he not want to see his son’s face when he left him there to die?

    Unless he had a SUV with 3 sets of seats in it and the child was in the last row, there is no way he went to that car at lunch time and did not see his child in the back.

    • Anonymous

      Do you even have children? 6-8 months front facing? Most parents don’t switch to front facing until a year old and even at that the recommendation is 2 years old.

    • Lala_hotel

      Most state laws require the child to be rear facing until they are at least one yr old and 35 lbs and the AAP recommends rear facing til child is 2 yrs. Some parents keep their children rear facing even longer.

    • Gabriela

      Lol…6-8 months?? It’s 2 years.or 35 lb..than the car seat can be front facing.Most parents do it up to a year thought as the babies are too long to be siting rear facing

    • susan

      Faithc…I thought the same thing about him being too big for rear facing. I thought maybe he was using that as the reason he didn’t see him when he got out of the car.

  • patricia stone

    he ate breakfast at a restaurant and he forgot the child in only 30 min went to the car at lunch did not see or remember the child then left work got down the road and realized he had killed the child and people are supposed to be stupid enough to be leave that i thank the parents are both guilty,not trying to judge and if im wrong im sorry but just my opinion

  • Ramona Beck Strabley

    He knew that child was in the car seat. He and his wife planed this. Told the police that they have done a search on cold deaths. He put the child facing the back window so he would not see the death in his son eyes. I guess you thought you would get a way with it just like Casey Anthony. My you burn in Hattes.

  • susan

    I guess since she was investigating on-line also, that is why she was not angry with the dad, and said what she did at the baby’s funeral

  • Paula Wright

    If it didn’t look like this was planned, I would say he was the king of dumbasses. He takes his son inside to eat breakfast, returns him to his car seat afterward but forgets about him in the half-mile ride to work. Then forgets to take him to the daycare INSIDE his workplace. No way he forgot. I’m just glad this baby couldn’t know what they were reading about. It wouldn’t be shocking if autopsy revealed other abuses.

  • Me

    I am thankful this sweet baby is now where is will be eternally loved……And his maker will be sure that who so- ever has done this to him maliciously, be punished BAD!!!!! RID baby boy

  • Wendy

    Take them both out in a field, tie them up and put them in a “hot box”. Let them know what that precious baby went through.

  • nana

    there is absolutely no excuse for leaving a child in any car at any time , and to say you “forgot’ You should suffer the same “forgetfulness”

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