SELLERSBURG, Ind. (WDRB) – More than a month after a 5-year-old boy was found dead inside a suitcase in southern Indiana, authorities have identified the cause of his death, but admittedly are no closer to to learn his identity, or how he came to be in the suitcase.
According to Sgt. Carey Huls of the Indiana State Police (ISP), the child died of an electrolyte imbalance, likely due to gastroenteritis, which he says was vomiting and diarrhea, resulting in dehydration.
The toxicology report now showed foreign substances in his system, and he had no significant external injuries, according to Huls. He was found clean and dressed, and there is no indication that he was placed alive in the suitcase.
“This is a very strange and tragic case,” Huls said.
Norton Children’s Hospital Medical Director Mark McDonald said this type of death leads the body to pick and choose which organs it supplies fluids to.
“Usually the body tries to perfuse the most important thing when we get severe, and I’m talking about severe dehydration, the body will perfuse the brain and the heart, but it kind of cuts off the perfusion to the kidneys and the gastrointestinal tract. “McDonald said. “You become delirious and end up passing out.”
McDonald also said that dying from dehydration is rare for a young child, except in cases of neglect. It could also take several days before dying from dehydration, depending on fluid intake.
“The only circumstances in which I think a younger child becomes so dehydrated that he dies is really if he is alone, left alone and cannot afford to help himself or anyone. ‘one around to help her,’ McDonald said.
For now, the police are working on the case as a death investigation, although that may change.
The announcement was made at a Friday afternoon press conference at the ISP station in Sellersburg.
ISP said the child’s body was discovered by a mushroom hunter in Washington County in April. Investigators believe the child is a 5-year-old black boy, but they still don’t know how or where he died.
Huls said he also checked the National Missing Children’s Database, but so far there have been no matches.
“Of the documented children who are missing on missing children’s lists across the country, at this point, there is no match on any child listed as missing,” Huls said.
Police also said they would not release any renderings or drawings of the boy at this time.
“Sometimes these renders can also lead to misconceptions,” Huls said. “They (the detectives) feel it’s in the best interests of the case not to do this.”
Police have set up a special line for people to share information about the child, 1-888-437-6432.
This story will be updated.
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