A toddler found dead in the trunk of a car may have been saved if police officers thought to force open the vehicle that was outside the young boy’s home.
Two-year-old Isaiah Theis went missing Tuesday night, leading to an exhaustive search that brought out more than 2,000 people in the western Wisconsin town of Balsam Lake. The toddler was found hours later in the trunk of a car outside his home, where his father repaired cars.
The car had belonged to a customer, and the boy was not discovered until the person returned the next day to retrieve the car.
Searchers had actually peeked into the car several times during the daylong search under a heat wave, but police said they regret not forcing it open to look inside.
Chief Deputy Steve Moe said rescuers believed Isaiah had wandered off, which he had done before, and added that all the cars were locked.
“Would we liked to have forced entry to the car? Yeah, from my personal perspective,” Moe said.
Family members told Polk County sheriff’s deputies that Isaiah was last seen playing with his brother inside the family house. The more than 2,000 people who showed up to look for the boy focused on the rural areas and forest surrounding the house.
The search was made more difficult given temperatures that reached into the mid 90s. A heat advisory had been issued for Wisconsin lasting through Friday afternoon.
Police said they still were not sure if the Isaiah Theis was the victim of foul play or just a terrible accident. A full autopsy has been requested.
“I know that there’s strong interest in what caused it and what things led to the boy getting in that car,” Moe said of the toddler found in the trunk. “It’s just too early.”