Family members of Isaiah Theis, the Polk County, Wis. toddler found dead inside the trunk of a car last week, say they believe the 2-year-old took the keys from his father's mechanic shop, opened the trunk and climbed inside.
Rick Van Gundy, a family friend and pastor, shared the information with the Pioneer Press Monday.
Van Gundy described Isaiah as "curious" and "adventurous," and said climbing into a trunk wouldn't be outside the toddler's bounds.
After hundreds of volunteers and law enforcement spent several hours scouring a 2-square-mile area surrounding the family's rural Centuria home, a sheriff's deputy discovered Isaiah's body in the trunk of a locked Chevrolet Impala Wednesday night. The car's keys were also found inside with the boy, Van Gundy said earlier.
Preliminary autopsy results indicated that Isaiah died from probable hyperthermia, or excessive heat.
Isaiah’s father owned an auto repair business near the family's house and had been working on the car, which was not searched initially simply because the vehicle was locked.
"He spent a lot of time with dad in the shop and if he saw you do something once, he could repeat it easily," Van Gundy told the newspaper.
The Polk County Sheriff's Office is still investigating Isaiah's death and has not yet released any findings in the case.
A memorial fund has been set up for Isaiah's family to help pay for funeral services.
KSTP reports a community visitation will be held Tuesday at Trollhaugen Convention Center in Dresser, Wis. from 4 to 8 p.m.
A funeral is being held Wednesday at Alliance Church of the Valley in St. Croix Falls at 11 a.m. A visitation is being held at the church an hour before the service.