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Cooper Harris: Relationships center of hot car death, dad sexting while son died

Cooper Harris
Cooper Harris
Harris via Facebook

The world lives in a day and age where relationship advice of days gone by is radically different than the relationship advice of today. After many high profile cases have hit the news, today's relationship advice ranges from generic "Don't get in a car with strangers" to "Don't sext women other than your wife while your son is dying in your car". This kind of relationship advice is being discovered after it has been revealed that Justin Ross Harris, accused of felony murder in the death of his 22-month-old son Cooper Harris, allegedly was sexting as many as 6 women, some of them teenagers, while his son Cooper fell victim to a hot car death on June 18, according to the Daily Mail on July 5. HLN News has also reported on July 4 some shocking details of the case, including Internet searches made by the accused, and startling relationship problems between Justin Ross Harris and his wife Leanna Harris.

When a child dies in an untimely fashion, the world reacts in outrage. The case of Casey Anthony is an example, and one that has grisly similarities to the case of Cooper Harris. HLN TV documented the probable cause hearing, and reports that a probable cause hearing on the hot car death of Cooper Harris, a death the entire continent is talking about, has revealed some disturbing new details regarding the days before and the day that little Cooper Harris died.

Justin Ross Harris appeared before the Cobb County courts in Georgia on Thursday July 3 for a probable cause hearing to determine if there is enough probable cause to charge him with felony murder. The Judge in the case, Judge Frank Cox has determined there is enough probable cause to pursue felony murder in the hot car death of Cooper Harris. Judge Cox has also used the term "death penalty" in relation to this case.

According to WSBTV a statement released by the Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds regarding the hearing states,

"Today, Cobb Chief Magistrate Judge Frank Cox conducted a Probable Cause and Bond Hearing in the case of The State v. Justin Ross Harris. After hearing evidence, Judge Cox bound the case over to Superior Court on the charges of cruelty to children in the second degree and felony murder. Procedurally, the warrant now is sent to the Cobb District Attorney’s Office for disposition. The investigation by Cobb Police is still in progress, and much work remains. Once law enforcement has completed their investigation, their file will be forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office for review. Only then will prosecution decisions be made. As in all cases, only two elements dictate those decisions: the facts, and the law."

What are then, the facts in this case, particularly in regards to the relationship at the center of it all?

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution 33-year-old Justin Ross Harris, who goes by Ross Harris, on June 18 he went to work at his place of employment the corporate office of Home Depot, and forgot to take his 22-month-old son Cooper Harris to daycare. In doing so, Ross Harris left his son strapped in his carseat for his entire work day. As we now know, Cooper Harris did not survive and is becoming a hallmark case against hot car deaths.

Harris alleges that when he returned to his vehicle 7 hours later, he realized what had happened. He allegedly turned into the parking lot of a shopping center and pulled him out. The Atlanta-Journal Constitution reports that Harris was witnessed on a cell phone, but it was not 911 that he was calling. A co-worker said to WGCL-TV that in that moment,

"He [Ross Harris] eventually pulled the child out of the car seat. I guess he was trying to un-restrain him. He pulled him out of the car seat, laid him on the ground and was trying to resuscitate him. He was constantly saying, 'What have I done, what have I done?'"

Detective Phil Stoddard a lead detective in the case testified at the probable cause hearing Thursday June 3 stating that Cooper had probably been dead for "more than four hours" by that point. Stoddard also testified that the smell of the death would have been overwhelming by that point, that the temperature of the day was 88 degrees Fahrenheit, and that Cooper Harris likely suffered a painful death, according to the Daily Mail.

The Cobb County Medical Examiner has listed Cooper's death as a homicide. It was a witness that called 911 on that day, at which point Ross Harris was brought in for police questioning. His wife Leanna Harris was also questioned by the police.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the search warrant on the case that has since been released asserts that,
"During the interview Harris stated that leaving his son in a hot car was his biggest fear. According to Harris he recently viewed a television show concerning child deaths in cars."

Regarding the interview with Cooper's mother, Leanna Harris, the warrant states,

"During the interview with Leanna, she also made a similar statement that this was her worst fear. Investigators questioned her further about this. Leanna stated specifically that her fear was that her child would be left in a hot vehicle, not the fear of losing a child."

Leanna is not being accused as a party to this alleged crime, though she has made some peculiar statements since the death of her son. The Daily Mail reports that Leanna Harris arrived at the daycare where Cooper Harris was supposed to be on June 18 to pickup her son. When she arrived she was reportedly told that her son was not there, at which point she said her husband, "must have left the toddler in the car."

Lead detectives in the case found the behavior of Ross Harris to be questionable in the early hours of the investigation. At the probable cause hearing, Detective Stoddard testified that Ross was not emotional about the death, until his wife arrived at the police station. Stoddard testified to his perceptions of the emotional state of Ross Harris on the day in question,

"It was all about him: 'I can't believe this is happening to me. Why am I being punished for this.' It was all very one sided. He talked about losing his job..'what are we going to do? I'll be charged with a felony."

Detective Stoddard stated that Leanna's response to her husband then was, "Did you say too much?" Stoddard also alleges that Ross said to his wife at the time, "I dreaded how he would look." Stoddard also testified to his perceptions that the toddler tried to escape the indoor sauna he had been left in, indicating the child had several scratches on his face.

In addition to this damaging testimony, the investigation has revealed some peculiar and disturbing allegations against Ross Harris regarding his relationship with his wife Leanna Harris. By the sounds of it, the relationship was not going so well, and the subject of Internet searches sometime prior to the incident, as well as sexting on the day in question suggests there may have been premeditation in this case.

According to HLN, Detective Stoddard has testified that on the day in question, Ross Harris was allegedly sexting as many as six different women, some of them teenagers, from his office in Home Depot while his son was becoming a victim of hot car death. Harris reportedly used an app called Kik to send photos of his "private parts" to multiple women, and Stoddard alluded to some alarming Internet searches as well.

"We've only scratched the surface" Stoddard stated at the probable cause hearing, in regards to what might be found on the computers and phones of the Harris family.

Leanna Harris has already told the police that she and Ross were having marriage problems, and money problems as well. Text messages may be revealed that show that she was aware that Ross was cheating on her. But this is not the only communication evidence against Ross Harris to date. Ross has reportedly been searching Reddit to view articles and images of people dying.

The Daily Mail reports that, in addition to this, among the images and articles Ross viewed were the "painful death of animals left in hot cars", he had also searched for information on "how to survive in prison". The search warrant that has been released also indicates that an additional online search Ross Harris performed was on hot car deaths, and what specific temperature would be required to cause death to a child in a vehicle.

The Harris home computer, in addition to Ross's iPhone 5, a Google Chromecast have been secured for further investigation. It is also being alleged that the work computer Ross used at the Home Depot head office in Marietta, GA was used to search for the in-car temperatures required for a dog to die if left in a vehicle.

The Daily Mail is also asserting that since he has been detained, Ross Harris has been instructing certain family members on how to collect on the life insurance policies that were placed on Cooper Harris, totallng approximately $27 thousand dollars.

Allegations of a double life, including a wife and family in Alabama have also been brought up since Ross Harris has been detained for the death of his child.

Attorney for the defense Maddox Kilgore stated, "This evidence has no bearing on Harris's intent."

In another grisly similarity to the Casey Anthony case, at the probable cause hearing, prosecution for the State told Judge Cox, "We plan to show that he wanted to live a child-free life."

Ross Harris is charged with felony murder and child cruelty, and has plead not guilty to all charges.

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