The New York Times explores the strange case of Justin Ross Harris of Tuscaloosa, Al., who is charged in Georgia with murdering his son Cooper, 22 months old, last month by leaving him in a hot car. Officials believe Harris, 33, wanted to be free of the burdens of parenting. Some in Tuscaloosa have a hard time believing the account of Harris and his wife pulling a car into a shopping center parking lot and laying out the boy’s lifeless body while screaming for help.
“I will be shocked if, at the end of the day, it turns out to be anything other than a horrific accident,” said a friend. Yet authorities say that before Cooper's death, Harris had looked at an online video about animals dying in hot cars, as well as at a website called “Childfree,” and that he had searched for information about how to survive in prison. Surveillance video shows that at one point in the day, he returned to his car, where he had strapped Cooper in a rear-facing car seat. While his son was trapped in the sweltering S.U.V., Harris was trading sexually explicit messages with women while he was working as a software engineer at a Home Depot corporate office.