Polk County Sheriff Pete Johnson says the keys to the vehicle two-year-old Isaiah Theis was found in last week were with him in the trunk of the car. The Sheriff says the agency does not normally comment on open investigations, but felt it was necessary to confirm the information after it was made public over the weekend by the family’s pastor.
Theis’ body was located last Wednesday night in the trunk of a vehicle parked at his father’s auto repair shop by his home near Centuria. The preliminary cause of death has been listed as hyperthermia, a condition in which the body temperature rapidly spikes.
The child had been missing for just over a day. The vehicle was one of several cars police looked at, but did not force their way inside because they were locked at the time. Police found the boy’s body when the owner of the car came to pick it up.
The Sheriff on Tuesday also responded to questions about a likely time of death for Theis. Johnson says that the medical examiner who performed the autopsy indicates that an exact time would only be an estimate based on how the boy died and when he was last seen alive. Based on available information about how temperatures rise in sealed, non-air conditioned cars, the medical examiner says it’s likely Theis was dead or had experienced irreversible damage by 9 p.m. on the evening he went missing, around the same time police first started searching for the boy.
WXCE’s Kurt Mayer contributed to this report.