Skip to main content

Preliminary autopsy: Wis. 2-year-old died of 'probable hyperthermia'


The western Wisconsin 2-year-old whose body was found in the trunk of a vehicle after a massive day-long search died of "probable hyperthermia," meaning his death was likely heat-related, according to preliminary autopsy results released Friday afternoon, FOX 9 reports.

Hyperthermia is "abnormally high body temperature caused by a failure of the heat-regulating mechanisms of the body to deal with the heat coming from the environment" – the body can't cool itself, according to the National Institutes of Health.

The autopsy indicates the toddler did not suffocate in the car trunk, nor did he suffer traumatic injuries, FOX reported. Medical examiners say he was an otherwise healthy, well-developed boy.

The finding was made by the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office in Anoka County and announced by Polk County Sheriff Peter Johnson, the Star Tribune reported.

Investigators are speculating on how the boy got into the trunk of the locked car.

"I know that there's strong interest in what caused it and what things led to the boy getting in that car," Polk County Chief Deputy Steve Moe said, FOX reported. "It's just too early."

The boy's body was discovered in the trunk of a Chevrolet Impala around 10:15 p.m. Wednesday, after as many as 2,400 volunteers joined the search around his family's rural property near Centuria, Wis., the Star Tribune noted. His parents had said he was playing with his 7-year-old brother Tuesday night and wandered off.

An emotional candlelight vigil was held for the boy in Centuria on Thursday night.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2021-11-25 at 7.53.37 AM

Another 5,000 lbs. of goldfish removed from Carver County lakes

It all likely stemmed from people dumping their pets into local waters a few years ago.

Rosaleia Shelton

Appeal to find 19-year-old missing from Bloomington

The teen left her home on Monday afternoon.

hospital, emergency room

Deaths of twin fetuses after woman was shot ruled a double homicide

The woman was shot in the abdomen in mid-September.

Payton Willis / Gopher Basketball

Gophers improve to 5-0 with win over Jacksonville

The Gophers are establishing momentum early in the season.

Anthony Edwards

Ant's massive slam leads Timberwolves to fifth straight win

The dunk didn't count, but provided the highlight of the night.

Cam Talbot / Minnesota Wild

WIld arrive late, Cam Talbot stays on point to beat Devils

Despite a 30-minute delay, the Wild picked up a 3-2 victory.

Screen Shot 2021-11-24 at 4.10.54 PM

Appeal to find 35-year-old missing from Oak Grove home

Police say he's not believed to be in danger.

vote, election

7 MN Republicans urge states to audit 2020 election results

There has been no evidence of significant fraud in any single U.S. state.

child vaccine pexels

How many MN kids age 5-11 have received a COVID vaccine dose?

The governor says the state has one of the highest child vaccination rates in the U.S.

police lights

Seven juveniles arrested in connection with stolen vehicles in Woodbury

Woodbury authorities have issued a warning following a spate of auto thefts.

police lights squad car dark - Unsplash

1 dead after driver crashes into stalled vehicle on shoulder

The vehicle stopped on the side of the road was unoccupied at the time.


2 Wis. inmates escape, may be on run to Minnesota

Two inmates remain on the run Friday from a west-central Wisconsin boot camp, suspected of arming themselves with a stolen shotgun and committing other crimes while possibly making their way to Minnesota, the Star Tribune reports. The two kidnapped a woman, stole her car, pointed a gun and asked her how to get to the interstate because they wanted to go to Minnesota, investigators say.

6-year-old pulled from country club pool dies

A 6-year-old boy from St. Paul was pulled from a swimming pool Friday night at a Hopkins country club where he was celebrating at a birthday party, police say. Club employees performed CPR on the child, and an ambulance brought the boy to the Hennepin County Medical Center, where he was later pronounced dead. The Associated Press reports the death has been ruled an accident.