Mom Now Faces Scrutiny in Hot Car Death
Leanna Harris' behavior puzzles investigators
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 7, 2014 4:55 AM CDT
Updated Jul 7, 2014 8:00 AM CDT
Justin Ross Harris, the father of a toddler who died after police say he was left in a hot car for about seven hours, sits for his bond hearing in Cobb County Magistrate Court.   (AP Photo/Marietta Daily Journal, Kelly J. Huff, Pool)

(Newser) – Leanna Harris—unlike her husband—has not been charged in the death of her 22-month-old son in a hot car but investigators are puzzled by some of her behavior. Police say she had done online research on children dying in hot cars and on the day her son, Cooper, died, she calmly said, "Ross must have left him in the car. There's no other explanation," after being told he had never arrived at day care, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution finds. When she was briefly reunited with her husband at the police station, police say she asked him "Did you say too much?" Some of her remarks at her son's funeral also raised eyebrows. As her husband listened in from jail, she said she wouldn't bring Cooper back even if she could. "He's in the most peaceful, wonderful place there is," she said.

The 30-year-old has shown little emotion at court hearings and legal experts aren't sure whether she will end up being charged as a co-conspirator or used as a witness against her husband, which Georgia law permits in cases involving the death of a child. In other developments:

  • Horrifying details of the boy's death emerged at a bond hearing a few days ago, reports the New York Daily News. A police officer testified that the little boy had desperately struggled to free himself from the car seat inside the hot SUV. Scratch marks on the boy's face and abrasions on the back of his head are signs of a frantic effort to get out of the seat. Search warrants released the next day stated that the belts were at the tightest setting.
  • At the same hearing, it emerged that Justin Ross Harris had exchanged explicit messages and photos with six women as his son baked to death. Investigators say Harris appeared to be trying to cover his tracks on all three computers he used, and they have only "scratched the surface" in their search for deleted files. "People think 'Well, this is a cell phone. Once I delete a picture or text message or my contacts, it's gone,'" a computer forensics expert tells NBC 11. "No. Even when you hit 'reset' on your phone, that information is still stored on that hard drive."

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Jul 10, 2014 11:51 AM CDT
Huh, you mean she's behaving strangely? Like or unlike Amanda Knox? What? Strange behavior is strange behavior no matter who it is? Hmmmm . . . weird.
Jul 8, 2014 7:47 AM CDT
Are the Prosecutors going to turn this into a witch hunt against a shocked and bereaving mother and wife, intentionally misinterpreting every word and search to the most sinister scenario even though she was at the daycare to pick up her child? Reminds me of the dingo death in Australia and the years of harassment done against baby's mother. When did "behavior" become the criteria instead of facts, evidence, and criminal actions?
Jul 8, 2014 1:04 AM CDT
I feel uncomfortable with the phrase "baked to death"... I'm gonna have a hard time using my oven now. But on a serious note, both of these parents need some serious help.