Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Toddlers Left in Car Die of Heat Exposure

Samantha Harper

Samantha Harper

A Smyrna, Tenn., mother is under arrest after police found her two young children dead of apparent heat exposure. Samantha Harper, 25, put her kids, Daniel Marise, 3, and Savannah Marise, 2, in the car, went back into her home, and fell asleep. It was a hot day, in the mid-90s, and police believe that the children died from being trapped in the vehicle with the windows rolled up. According to Smyrna Police Sgt. Bobby Gibson, “You put someone in a car with the windows rolled up, with no ventilation, it can increase the temperature easy 30 to 40 degrees inside the vehicle.” In any event, the coroner will conduct an autopsy of the children to determine the cause of death. Harper was arrested and charged with two counts of especially aggravated child abuse.

After her arrest, police entered the home and found it to be in deplorable conditions. They quickly posted Danger and Condemned signs on all the entrances. Given the conditions of the home, additional charges against Harper are likely. Also, according to Sgt. Gibson, “We are going to speak to everyone that we can that had knowledge of the children [and the] conditions of the home.” Neighbors have set up a little memorial for the children and are calling their deaths “heartbreaking” and “sad.”

Slideshow: Bad Parenting

Slideshow: Deplorable Conditions

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