Justin Ross Harris did an internet search for “how long does it take for an animal to die in a hot car” shortly before leaving his 22-month-old boy to sit for seven hours in a car in sweltering heat, law enforcement sources in Georgia say.
Harris has been charged with murder and second-degree child cruelty. Officially, the Cobb County police are not saying anything about evidence, but anonymous sources have indicated to several media outlets that Harris carefully planned to kill his toddler son.
Justin Ross Harris initially said that he forgot son Cooper Harris in the car by mistake, but police soon unraveled a much more sinister plot to leave the boy inside the car in sweltering temperatures.
“The chain of events that occurred in this case does not point toward simple negligence and evidence will be presented to support this allegation,” said Cobb County Police Chief John House.
Cooper died on June 18, a day that reached as high as 90 degrees. Police say his father stopped at a fast food restaurant to buy breakfast and then put his son in a rear-facing car seat in the backseat of the SUV. Harris then drove to his work at a Home Depot corporate office, leaving his son inside the car rather than taking him to daycare.
Justin Ross Harris even returned to his car during his lunch break, opening the driver’s side door to put something inside. Harris then came back after work and drove away, traveling a few miles before stopping at a shopping center to call for help.
Police at the scene said Justin Ross Harris was so distraught at learning his son was dead that officers had to restrain him.
“What have I done?” Harris reportedly shouted.
Now, even supporters of Harris have drawn back. Friends pulled together a petition on change.org urging his release, but it was later taken down.
“I still pray that this was truly an accident,” a note on the site read. “If that is the case, the DA now knows that the community does not want Justin prosecuted on murder charges.”
Justin Ross Harris is being held without bail in the death of his son Cooper.