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Updated: 12:14 p.m. Friday, July 4, 2014 | Posted: 9:28 a.m. Friday, July 4, 2014

Warrants: Toddler’s dad told family how to collect $27K life insurance

By Alexis Stevens

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

While in jail accused of killing his 22-month-old, Ross Harris told family members how to collect the $27,000 life insurance policies on the boy, search warrants released Friday state.

“Through the investigation Harris has made comments to family members regarding a life insurance policy that he has on Cooper and what they need to do in order to file for it,” according to documents obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Additional search warrants released Friday offered some details into the investigation in young Cooper’s death. But the court documents mostly echoed the hours of testimony heard the previous day, when Harris was denied bond for murder and child cruelty charges.

During that court hearing, a Cobb County detective said the Harris and his wife, Leanna, had two life insurance policies for their son, one for $25,000 and the other for $2,000. Information on whether the family has attempted to claim the money on the policies has not been released. A spokeswoman for Home Depot previously told The AJC that a company-sponsored grant was provided to the family to cover funeral costs for Cooper.

As parents, their worst fear was that their young son would be left inside a hot vehicle, Ross and Leanna Harris told Cobb County police. When the two were questioned, that fear had already led to a tragic ending. The couple’s 22-month-old was dead.

Ross Harris, 33, said he accidentally left his son strapped into his car seat on June 18 while he went to work at a Home Depot corporate office. When he left work more than seven hours later, Harris said he realized his son had been left in the backseat and pulled into a shopping center parking lot.

By then, Cooper was dead and likely had been for more than four hours, according to Detective Phil Stoddard’s testimony Thursday. The smell inside the small SUV was overwhelming an hour after Harris stopped and pulled the boy out of his car seat, Stoddard said.

With his son dead on the parking lot pavement, Harris was seen by witnesses talking on his cell phone. He did not call 911, but a witness did, Stoddard said. Harris was taken to police headquarters, where both he and his wife were questioned, police said.

“During the interview Harris stated that leaving his son in a hot car was his biggest fear,” the search warrants state. “According to Harris he recently viewed a television show concerning child deaths in cars.”

Leanna Harris was also questioned by police and made similar statements.

“During the interview with Leanna she also made a similar statement that this was her worst fear,” search warrants state. “Investigators questioned her further about this. Leanna stated specifically that her fear was that her child would be left in a hot vehicle, not the fear of losing a child.”

By law, after applying for search warrants, investigators have 10 days to conduct the searches and return the application documents to Magistrate Court. The documents released Friday included applications filed June 24.

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