The father of a 22-month-old toddler found dead in the back of an SUV on Wednesday left him their deliberately, a Cobb County public safety official tells the media.
Justin Ross Harris, 33, has been held in the Cobb County Jail for six days without bail on murder charges after Cobb County police officials say their investigation led them to the more extreme charge instead of, say, negligent homicide or involuntary manslaughter.
Harris initially told Cobb police he mistakenly left his son in his carseat while he went to work at Home Depot last week. The Marietta resident said he only realized the boy, Cooper Mills Harris, was in the backseat when he was driving away from his job.
The child, Cooper, was already dead when the father allegedly noticed him the parking lot of an Akers Mill Road shopping center, the place Harris drove after noticing his son still strapped in to his carseat.
“This is a very active, very fluid investigation,” Officer Mike Bowman said, according to CNN. “Our detectives have worked tirelessly to resolve the leads in this case. They are doing due diligence.”
The case has inspired protests, rallies and fundraising efforts from thousands of supporters who have signed a petition urging District Attorney Vic Reynolds to drop charges against 33-year-old Ross Harris. They have raised more than $20,000 in Harris’ defense.
But police admitted they are working through inconsistencies in Harris’ recounting of the events between then and now, but refuse to divulge what those discrepancies are.
“We know this is an emotional case,” Bowman said. “We know it’s weighing on heart strings.”
Cobb police public information officer Sgt. Dana Pierce told CNN the case “shocks his conscience” as a police officer, but has declined to cite specifics.
Shortly after leaving work last Wednesday, Harris said he realized his son was in the backseat of the Hyundai Tuscon, still strapped into carseat, according to police. Harris said he then immediately pulled into a shopping center parking lot, where witnesses attempted to help revive the boy.
An autopsy has been performed but police refuse to say what was discovered.
Cooper’s mother, Leanna Harris, is not talking to the media about her son or the father.
The funeral will be held Saturday for Cooper at 1 p.m. Saturday at the University Church of Christ in Tuscaloosa, Ala.