When 2-year old Wisconsin boy Isaiah Theis went missing on Tuesday, his family says they assumed he had wandered into the wooded area surrounding their home. As a precocious, curious little boy, it wasn't uncommon for him to do such a thing. But after search parties failed to find him during that sweltering afternoon, police say they wanted to check the cars that sit on the property and were told there was no way the toddler could have gained access to them. Unfortunately, as authorities found on Wednesday, he had.
Isaiah's father, Justin, runs an auto repair shop near the home and had several cars in his care earlier this week. But, he says, they were all closed up and locked before Isaiah disappeared, and there would have been no way for him to have crawled inside. Search dogs were brought in by police and they went right by the cars without any indication that they had picked up on Isaiah's scent. More than 2,000 volunteers came out to help search for the boy as the hours ticked by with no sign of him. But around 10 p.m. on Wednesday night, when the owner of an Impala came to remove the car from the scene, officers decided to look in the trunk just to be sure. There, they found the toddler's body.
Now the question remains: how did Isaiah get inside?
"We were operating under the belief that there was no access to those vehicles, and finding out later there was, I was surprised," said chief deputy with the Polk County Sheriff's Office Steve Moe.
The home and property remains blocked off as officials investigate how the tragedy occurred if the cars had been locked, and an autopsy is underway.
Automobiles can become death traps in the summer, especially for young children and babies. Parents and caregivers are advised to never leave a child inside a car or to let them have access to the car under any circumstances when the weather is hot; here in Kentucky, Bryan's Law has been passed, which means second-degree manslaughter charges for anyone who leaves a child under the age of 8 in a car and it leads to their death. The law is named for Bryan Puckett, an 11-month old from Winchester, Kentucky who died when his caregiver left him in the car to go shopping.
Image: Polk County Sheriff's Office