Boy found in suitcase in Indiana woods died of electrolyte imbalance, police say

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — While his identity remains unknown, the boy found dead in a suitcase last month in Southern Indiana died due to an electrolyte imbalance, Indiana State Police announced Friday.

There were no signs of negligence or traumatic injuries, Indiana State Police Sgt. Carey Huls added at a press conference to announce the results of the autopsy, which was completed last week. But questions remain – Huls said investigators still have not been able to determine whether the child was dead or alive when he was placed in the suitcase, bearing a distinctive "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada" design painted on its shell.

The child was clean and clothed, Huls said, but police will not disclose the description of the clothing he was wearing as it could lead to an influx in incorrect tips. And either way, Huls said, "somebody knows something."

"He didn't put himself in that suitcase. Somebody did," Huls said. "Somebody out there has firsthand knowledge on what happened in the situation ... and we need that person to come forward."

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The electrolyte imbalance, Huls said, was "most likely caused by gastroenteritis, which in common laymans' terms would be vomiting and diarrhea. And that resulted in dehydration."

Gastroenteritis can be caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites or medication, according to the Mayo Clinic. The toxicology report was negative.

The Washington County Coroner's Office, which performed the autopsy, did not immediately respond to a phone call Friday afternoon seeking the full autopsy results.

The child, who is Black and believed to be about 5 years old, was found April 16 in the woods of Southern Indiana, about 70 miles south of Indianapolis and 25 miles northwest of Louisville, Ky.

He was approximately 4 feet tall, with a slim build and a short haircut. Investigators have said they believe the boy's death occurred sometime within the week before he was found.

This boy has not matched any descriptions of kids on the national missing children's list, said Huls. He added the boy is not Codi Bigsby, a 4-year-old Virginia boy who went missing on Jan. 31.

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Huls said local police have worked cases involving missing children before. Still, this is a unique situation.

"This case is different. I mean, this isn't a missing children's case where we have a child that we know exists," Huls said. "We have a child we know nothing about ... and nobody wants to come forward and say, 'I know this child, this is my child' or 'I know how this child got there.'"

The child will be buried next week after a funeral service that is being planned by the Washington County Sheriff's Department.

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"This little boy wasn't respected in life and we, Washington County, want to make sure he's respected in death," Todd Murphy, the department's chaplain, said earlier this week.

The funeral service will be at Weathers Funeral Home in Salem at 11 a.m. Wednesday, followed by his burial at Crown Hill Cemetery.

All expenses of the service have been covered, Murphy said.

"It's been incredible," he said. "He's been adopted by the county. We want to make sure he's properly cared for and properly laid to rest."

Anyone with information about the case or the boy's identity is asked to call 1-888-437-6432.

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This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Boy found in Indiana suitcase died of electrolyte imbalance: Police

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