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Warrant: Man did Web search on kids dying in cars

By Kathleen Foody

ATLANTA (AP) - A Georgia man charged with murder after his 22-month-old son died in a hot SUV searched online for information about kids dying in cars and told police he feared it could happen, according to documents released Saturday as the boy's family planned a funeral in Alabama.

The search warrants, including the family's condo, car and electronics, released by the Cobb County Police Department provide more insight into the investigation of Cooper Harris' death on June 18.

Justin Ross Harris, 33, has 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.

In an interview after his son's death, Harris told investigators that he had done a web search on what temperature could cause a child's death in a vehicle.

"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. Justin stated that he was fearful that this could happen," one of the four warrants released to The Associated Press stated.

Harris also 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.

Harris is charged with murder and second-degree child cruelty in his son's death, and remained in jail on Saturday as family members prepared to hold a funeral in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Police have said facts in the case "do not point toward simple negligence." A previously released arrest warrant stated that Harris stopped with his son for breakfast and returned to put something inside his car during the day while the child was still inside. The Cobb County Medical Examiner's office said Wednesday that it believes the cause of Cooper Harris' death was hyperthermia and manner of death was homicide.

The temperature that day was 88 degrees at 5:16 p.m., according to a warrant filed the day after the child died.

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.

Police said in the warrants that they were searching for trace evidence including hair, fingerprints, blood or DNA inside the car and any computers, electronic devices or paperwork "related to the crime of Homicide and Cruelty to Children."

In an obituary published this week, the child's family said Justin Ross Harris and his wife, Leanna, were "the most proud parents there could ever have been."

Cooper Harris loved trucks and cars, had just learned the color red and was a happy baby, it read.

"His 22 months of life were the most happy and fulfilling times of his mother's and father's lives, and we will miss him greatly," the obituary read.

Join the discussion

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heatherk79 June 28 2014 at 6:26 PM

I'm sorry, but if you are particularly worried about something so specific happening to your child, wouldn't you be extra cautious, and vigilant, in such a situation? Especially, something you have so much control over preventing.
I'm fearful of my two small children drowning. However, I've never thought to do an internet search on how long it takes a small child to drown. Instead, I make sure my kids are never left alone in the water, and that either I, or someone I completely trust, like my husband or my mom, keeps a watchful eye on them.
I know it's not exactly the same thing, and I know that horrible accidents can still happen to loving parents.
I also don't think I'm perfect, and immune from any accident ever happening to my kids. I just think that when there is something you're specifically worried about, you take extra precautions because you're very aware it's a possibility.
In other words, I don't buy this guy's explanation for even a second.

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2 replies
frank.foreman heatherk79 June 29 2014 at 4:11 AM

Exactly. When you have done some extra research on how to keep your child safe while they are riding in the car with you , in a child seat , you take every precaution when you strap them in - it's part of your driver's license when you are transporting an infant etc. How then , do you return to the same car at lunch to put something in the car? That you could remember having to do - but NOT strapping the child in and going to work or wherever? Not likely , and the child would be crying loudly , perhaps he drove somewhere other than his friend's house or wherever he said he went (which confused his judgement) , where he even put the car in the hottest spot he could find , and then , when the child was dead , parked the car at work or wherever. That makes more sense , as this baby would be crying it's lungs out , while nobody heard this in a parking lot for hours on end? Also not likely.

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tiea331 heatherk79 June 29 2014 at 9:39 AM

hes a frecki liar

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tfpisan June 28 2014 at 5:34 PM

you didnt forget to eat though did you fat bastard....

Flag Reply +24 rate up
nkowalak June 28 2014 at 4:45 PM

This story gets worse every day. Let's put tubby in a car for three days, still hot in Florida and see how long his excess can keep him alive. If he didn't want the child, Lord sakes, take her to a shelter, somone would have loved to have been a mom to her.

Flag Reply +22 rate up
3 replies
thunder193 June 28 2014 at 4:55 PM

I remember a couple of years ago watching a news report of a father that had done the same thing, only it truly was an accident, and I said to some friends, wait and see if someday a parent does it intentionally and uses the "accident" excuse. The criminal mind is a curious thing.

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3 replies
pocomokekid June 28 2014 at 5:42 PM

Sentence him to death and have him die the same way!

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1 reply
wayne pocomokekid June 28 2014 at 5:53 PM

Yes agreed!

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donbanf June 28 2014 at 6:20 PM

I heard the internet search was on his work computer and it was for how long it takes an animal to die in a hot car. Happens a lot with dogs. Seems odd. What I want to know is why? Why would he want his son dead? It just doesn't make sense to me. When I read that sentence "Harris loved trucks and cars, had just learned the color red and was a happy baby" it's just heartbreaking. What a sad and tragic story. I hope they find out the truth of what happened.

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5 replies
virginia June 28 2014 at 5:59 PM

yep. i knew he wanted to get rid of the kid.
you just do not ever forget your kid. especially when he went to his car at lunchtime.probably to make sure the kid was dead already he probalby forgot the police were going to look at his computer.

Flag Reply +14 rate up
Darlene June 28 2014 at 5:25 PM

It's happening everywhere & it makes me want to cry for all the babies & little ones. I really hope these parents get what they deserve & it haunts them forever! I'm a grandmother of 3 precious ones & can't imagine life with out one of them.

Flag Reply +11 rate up
3 replies
Mike June 28 2014 at 4:59 PM

Why are Georgians are always killing their kids?

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7 replies
pj512 June 29 2014 at 12:35 AM

I live in the same county this happened in. He stopped at Chick-fil-A. Took his son out of the car and into the restaurant. Came back out and put his son back in the car. Drove the 1/4 mile to work instead of the 1/2 mile to the daycare, and somehow, in those three or four or five minutes, forgot his son was in the backseat. Under no circumstances do I think this was an accident.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
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