ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day Created with Sketch.
75°
Scattered Clouds
H 85° L 68°
  • cloudy-day Created with Sketch.
    75°
    Current Conditions
    Sunny. H 85° L 68°
  • clear-day Created with Sketch.
    69°
    Morning
    Sunny. H 85° L 68°
  • clear-day Created with Sketch.
    88°
    Afternoon
    Sunny. H 94° L 71°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

National
Father suspected in toddler's death researched child deaths in hot cars
Close

Father suspected in toddler's death researched child deaths in hot cars

Autopsy released; Police chief asks for patience in child death

Father suspected in toddler's death researched child deaths in hot cars

More details are coming out concerning the death of a Georgia toddler, left in a hot SUV for hours last week. 

The Cobb man accused of leaving his toddler son in an SUV for seven hours researched child deaths inside vehicles, new documents released Saturday morning revealed.

Justin Harris has been held without bond at the Cobb County jail since the night of June 18, hours after 22-month-old Cooper Harris was declared dead in a shopping center parking lot. In addition to murder, Justin Harris has also been charged with second degree child cruelty, also a felony.

“During an interview with Justin, He stated that he recently researched, through the internet, child deaths inside vehicles and what temperature it needs to be for that to occur,” according to search warrants obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Justin stated that he was fearful that this could happen.”

— Please return to ajc.com and wsbtv.com for updates.

 

This is a developing story, check back for updates. Below is the original story compiled from reports from WSB-TV and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

----------------------

Original story: The father of a Georgia toddler found dead in the back of an SUV last week knew the child had been left in the vehicle, sources told WSB-TV and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday.

That information differs from Justin Ross Harris’ initial statements to police, including that he mistakenly left his son in his car seat while he went to work on June 18. Harris, 33, said he only realized the boy, Cooper Mills Harris, was in the back seat when he was driving away from his job at a Home Depot corporate office, police said at the scene.

>> RELATED: Police: Father who left child in hot car charged with murder

Harris was charged with murder and cruelty to children in the first degree in connection to the child’s death. He spent his sixth day Tuesday in the Cobb County jail, where he’s being held without bond.

WSB-TV's Jodie Fleischer broke new developments in the case on Twitter just after 5 p.m. Tuesday.

The new developments have left many who witnessed the incident wondering what they saw last week.

Artikya Eastland said she saw Harris abruptly pull his SUV into the parking lot of a small strip mall and pull the lifeless body of his small child from the back of the vehicle.

>> RELATED: 'I’ve killed our child,' dad screams over tiny body

"He just screamed, ‘What have I done,’ loudly. Obviously, it was a bit dramatic. He had his hand up in the air, up towards the sky. ‘What have I done’ type of thing,” Eastland said.  “That I won’t forget for a while.”

Prosecutors met Tuesday to look at that SUV again, WSB-TV reported. They would not comment on their findings.

Eastland said everyone thought it was a terrible accident. She isn’t sure if Harris’ emotions were sincere or a cover.

>> Read more trending stories

“As far as what exactly happened, why it happened, that I don’t know,” Eastland said. “I’m hoping at the minimum of course that it was an accident. But I really don’t know how to answer that one.”

Autopsy results

Medical examiners said the death of Cooper Mills Harris is consistent with hyperthermia.  They are waiting to make a final ruling to cause and manner of death until toxicology results come in. 

Hyperthermia happens when a person's temperature rises and remains higher than 98.6 degrees.  Outside temperatures on June 18 were in the low 90s.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the inside temperature of a car can rise an average of 19 degrees within 10 minutes.

Harris' father, Justin Ross Harris, has been charged with murder and second-degree child crulety.    

According to a warrant filed Wednesday, Harris placed his 22-month-old son, Cooper, in a rear-facing car seat after they ate at a Chick-Fil-A near his office the morning of June 19. Harris then drove the short distance to his office, less than a mile, the warrant said.

The warrant also says Harris was seen going out to his car and opening the driver's door to place something in his car at lunch.

 

The child's funeral will be held Saturday in Alabama.   

Read More
VIEW COMMENTS

There are no comments yet. Be the first to post your thoughts. or Register.

The Latest News Headlines

  • Was it corruption or betrayal? There is a fundamental question that’s been brought to light through opening statements at the federal fraud trial of now-former Congresswoman Corrine Brown- exactly how much did she know about her personal finances and affairs. The question becomes central, as her defense paints the picture of a Chief of Staff in over his head and acting behind Brown’s back, while prosecutors say it would be impossible for her not to know about the source of the tens of thousands of dollars she was allegedly benefiting from. Assistant US Attorney A. Tysen Duva started his argument talking about Brown being hailed as a trailblazer for her historic election in the 90s. He spoke about the committees she served in her more than two decades with the House of Representatives, and the reputation she built to deliver for her constituents. “We wish that was the end of the story,” Duva said. “There’s another side- corruption, greed, and a significant entitlement attitude. That’s what this case is about. It’s about lying, cheating, and stealing.” Duva says Brown leveraged her position and relationships she built as a Congresswoman to solicit money for a “bogus” charity “One Door for Education”, without ever telling donors the money wasn’t being used on scholarships and other things to help disadvantaged children. Instead, prosecutors say the money was being used for parties, travel, shopping trips, and more of Brown and a few others. Duva says Brown’s Chief of Staff Ronnie Simmons would frequently drive to an ATM in his Virginia hometown and withdraw the maximum allowed in a day- $800- from the One Door account, then depositing a like sum in to one of Brown’s bank accounts or giving the cash to Brown directly.  “When we dug even further, we saw this was a way of life,” he says. Duva says Brown was driven by finances- with three properties and a shopping habit. “She simply spent way more than she took in, she became accustomed to this money coming in,” He says.  Brown would also throw “lavish” events using One Door funds, according to Duva, about $330,000 overall. The US Attorney’s Office says donations to the group funded a golf tournament at TPC Sawgrass, a luxury box at a Jaguars game in DC, a luxury box in a Beyonce concert, and more. The money would also allegedly be used for an event at an annual conference, which Duva called a party for Brown to “be celebrated”. No fundraising was done at these events, according to Duva. In his opening statement, though, Brown’s attorney James Smith III said Brown was not responsible for event planning, travel, or even much of the day-to-day operations in her office- Simmons was, and the jury needs to decide if they can trust him. “She trusted that he would always look out for her and care for her,” Smith says. Smith says Brown first offered to be Simmons’ mentor after he and her daughter broke up, but remained friends. Simmons first worked in Brown’s travel agency, then eventually her campaign for the Florida House, then Congress. Smith says Brown looked at Simmons as a son, and was unaware that many thought he was in over his head. Rather, she trusted him to run her staff, keep her schedule, plan her travel and more. Simmons also had access to Brown’s bank accounts, according to Smith. “As far as she knew, everything was running smoothly,” Smith says. Smith says Simmons was always developing “schemes”, though, to fund the lifestyle he had become accustomed to. One such scheme involved getting a House of Representatives job for his sister by telling Brown she was sick and needed money. In reality, he says Simmons took much of the money over many years, and the relative didn’t do much work. So, when Simmons met and ultimately started having a relationship with Carla Wiley, the President of One Door, the opportunity for another scheme “fell in to his lap”. “The two of them did that, on their own, without any encouragement or direction from Congresswoman Brown,” Smith says. He says Brown solicited donations for a group she had every reason to believe was credible, because Simmons had vouched for it, and she trusted him. Even when Wiley ultimately took a plea deal, Simmons maintained his innocence, so Brown still had trust that he had done the right thing, according to Smith. Then, Simmons took a plea deal as well. “She finally, finally had a chance to see clearly the betrayal that some in her inner circle feared,” Smith says. Simmons and Wiley are both going to testify. Smith reminded the jurors that they will have to consider that testimony carefully, because of the plea deals Wiley and Simmons were given in exchange for their cooperation with the prosecution. He added that Brown herself will testify, because she can tell her story best, and he wants the jury to weigh Brown’s “well-earned reputation” against that of her two alleged co-conspirators. And on the question of how Brown could have not known about the source of frequent large deposits in her accounts- the alleged One Door money Simmons would deposit- Smith says Brown traveled frequently for her work in Congress, and she would front the money and get reimbursed. Prosecutors say that’s just not the case. “The facts are going to show that Corrine Brown knew exactly what she was doing,” Duva said. He adds that there are clearly established lies which will speak to that, including that Brown is also accused of underreporting her income and overreporting her charitable giving on House financial disclosures and tax returns. If the One Door donors had known their money was not going to charitable education purposes, Duva says they wouldn’t have donated in the first place. He also says Brown using her influence and position as a Congresswoman was key toward soliciting the large donations- many ten thousand dollars or more. Smith says Brown can only be convicted of fraud if she knowingly lied to the donors when she asked for the donations. He says she didn’t, though, and had instead been fooled by Simmons. Smith says Simmons fooled investigators and prosecutors too. “Don’t let him fool you,” Smith said to the jury. The courtroom itself was full for opening statements Wednesday, despite US Magistrate Judge Timothy Corrigan adding extra chairs in anticipation of a crowd. Those who did not secure a seat- which were first come, first served- were allowed in to an overflow room where there were audio and video feeds set up.  WOKV is inside of the federal courtroom and updating you frequently through the proceedings. This is a developing story that will be updated in to the evening.
  • It caused all sorts of problems for East Arlington drivers heading home Wednesday afternoon.   A 1-acre woods fire was burning off Monument Road, near I-295, sending smoke high into the air.   The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office temporarily closed all northbound and southbound lanes of Monument, between St. Johns Bluff Road and Lee Road at the peak of the fire.   The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department and the Florida Forest Service teamed up to get the fire quickly contained.   We're told one vacant structure was destroyed.
  • A 2-year-old’s arms and mouth were bound with packaging tape by her day care teacher, according to a police report that WSOC obtained. WSOC reporter Ken Lemon spoke to the child’s mother who filed a police report on the incident at The Children of America Education and Childcare Centers in the University area. The 2-year-old’s mother, who didn’t want to be identified, said that she found out about the incident three weeks ago when an employee walked by a classroom and saw the little girl in a corner with her hands bound by several pieces of tape and tape covering her mouth. The mother said the employee was so stunned she asked another employee to look into the class and witness the incident. “You are not going to get away with torturing my child,” the mother said. She said her child’s teacher had been at the day care for a few months and got upset. “She said my daughter wouldn’t be still and listen to what she was saying,” the mother said. The mother claims that’s when the teacher wrapped packing tape around her child’s wrists and over her mouth. The mother said administrators told her what happened the next day and fired the teacher. But the mother said that’s not enough, and that the teacher should face charges. Statement issued by The Mintz Fraade Law Firm, representing Children of America: 'This is in response to the recent inquiry pertaining to an incident at the Children of America childcare center in Charlotte. Please be advised that as a licensed child care provider in the State of North Carolina, Children of America must adhere to strict state mandated guidelines. Specifically, with regard to this recent incident with which you are inquiring about, Children of America took immediate, appropriate action as mandated and pursuant to Children of America's internal policies and procedures which included the termination of the employee. Children of America cannot comment any further on the incident because it is an ongoing investigation.' She waited three weeks for the day care to report the incident to police. She said when that didn’t happen, she called police. The executive vice president for the school said that what happened is upsetting. He said teachers go through training and are told they can take a break any time the stress gets too high. He said administrators will also reinforce procedures for teachers. The executive vice president added that the day care took swift and appropriate action and that the staff notified child services and state licensing agencies, which is the day care’s protocol. [LINK: NC Division of Child Development and Early Education report] WSOC checked the Division of Child Development records on the five-star facility and learned that three years ago, a 2-year child was left unsupervised for more than 30 minutes. The division discovered in 2015 that criminal records weren’t complete for all staff members. The state also found that a 2-year-old child was picked up by the arms and dropped on the floor in 2015. 
  • Police arrested a man Wednesday morning after authorities found a missing woman trapped inside his shed. >> Read more trending news Jennifer Elliot was reported missing just after midnight Wednesday and was found around 4 a.m. after residents heard her cries coming from a shed on Central Avenue in Blanchester.  Police went to the 100 block of Central Avenue after a neighbor reported hearing screams coming from the property. Once authorities arrived, they entered a shed in the backyard and found a woman in a well hole covered by multiple objects. Authorities arrested Dennis Dunn on kidnapping charges after a four-hour standoff with Blanchester police. He was taken to the Clinton County Jail.  Elliot was taken to the hospital and has since been released. Police said officers saw no obvious signs of physical trauma to Elliott. Police said Elliot had previously reported that Dunn harassed her. Elliott and Dunn live on the same street. Elliot filed a report with police in October after she said she got harassing phone calls and texts from Dunn. Elliott declined to participate in any prosecution of Dunn in that case. Police Chief Scott Reinbolt said Dunn has a history of mental illness.
  • The next installment of the video game “Call of Duty” is set to be revealed on Wednesday. While there have been leaks about many of the new game's features, details from the game’s developers have been few. What is known today is that the latest version will return to its original setting, World War II. The “worldwide reveal” for the game is set for Wednesday at 10 a.m. PT (1 p.m. ET), according to Activision Blizzard. GameStop is reporting that the game will likely be released on Nov. 3. Actor Josh Duhamel will reportedly star in the new game which will feature iconic WWII locations. “Call of Duty” has been the top-selling PC and console game in the United States for the past seven years. The game was set in WWII when it first hit the market, then developers moved it to the modern era and a futuristic world. You can see more information about the game and watch the reveal at the Call of Duty website.  

The Latest News Videos