Cause of Death Revealed for Boy Found Stuffed in Suitcase

Child died of 'electrolyte imbalance'; authorities still trying to ID him
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 20, 2022 11:32 AM CDT
Updated May 28, 2022 6:00 AM CDT
Indiana Police, Struggling to ID Dead Boy, Reveal New Detail
Police photo of the suitcase discovered in woods south of Indianapolis on April 16, 2022. Police say the body of a child was stuffed inside. They have not released information on a cause of death, and the child's identity remains unknown as of April 20, 2022.   (Indiana State Police)

(Newser) Update: There's still no word on the ID of a young boy whose body was found stuffed in a suitcase in Washington County, Ind., last month, but a cause of death has now been determined. Official autopsy and toxicology reports reveal that the boy, described as Black and around 5 years old, died of an "electrolyte imbalance." According to a release from Indiana State Police, that imbalance was probably from "viral gastroenteritis"—a stomach or intestinal inflammation that can cause vomiting and diarrhea, leading to serious dehydration, per the CDC. Blood toxicology came back "negative," and there was "no anatomical cause of death"—i.e., "no significant traumatic injuries," per CNN. Authorities also note "they have no evidence which leads them to believe the child was alive when placed into the suitcase." Anyone with information on the case is urged to call 1-888-437-6432. Our original story from April 20 follows:

Indiana State Police have shared a disturbing new detail about the body of a young boy that was discovered last Saturday. Police say the child, who was probably around 5 years old, was found stuffed inside a hard-shell suitcase. The suitcase is decorated with palm trees and the words "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada." The Courier-Journal reports it's believed the Black boy died within the past week, and the release of information comes as police struggle to identify him. Police say he doesn't match any nearby missing-child reports. In a press conference, Sgt. Carey Huls explained, "We thought this would be a local case, but since nothing has happened—we haven't had any matches—so this obviously could be a national thing."

Police have established a national tip line (1-888-437-6432) and encourage anyone with information to come forward. Judging by the child's clothing and other factors, Huls said, "He was in someone's custody and care for his daily needs ... Somebody was taking care of this little boy. Someone somewhere knows something." Per Local 12, the autopsy didn't return a cause of death; a toxicology report isn't expected for weeks. Fox 19 reports that the suitcase was found in the woods by a mushroom hunter, in a location roughly 70 miles south of Indianapolis and 25 miles northwest of the Kentucky border at Louisville. (Read more missing child stories.)

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