FORT WORTH, Texas - It was inside a walk-in closet in a west Fort Worth, Texas home that police say they found an infant boy, dead, lying in a portable car seat late Monday night.
By Tuesday, they'd started piecing together how little John Norris had died.
"It appears the bottom belt strap was not properly connected, wasn’t inserted, and the child slid down the seat," says Officer Brad Perez of FWPD. "The infant’s neck was caught between the car carrier chest buckle that was fastened, and the child appears to have suffocated by the means of the buckle and strap mechanism.
The Tarrant County Medical Examiner confirmed Norris' death was accidental, caused by car seat belt strangulation.
Officer Perez says while the death itself appears to be a horrible accident, the circumstances around the death are being investigated. Police say the babysitter, who has not been named, left the baby to sleep in a car seat inside the master bedroom closet and discovered him dead two hours later. Police say there were 10 or 11 children inside the babysitter's home when the little boy died.
"I don’t want to pass any judgment on this caretaker. I do know 10-11 children is a lot. I don’t know if this was the only adult supervision inside this location," Perez says.
A family attorney and close friend of the Norris family said the boy's mother, Megan, is devastated by his death.
"For them, this is something they never saw coming and don't know how to handle. It's day by day at this point," said Kitty Wise.
Wise said the family is from Weatherford and doesn't know much about what happened inside the babysitter's home. They plan to wait on the investigation to reveal more.
"They don't know a lot. This was a beautiful, wonderful child and for them this is the worst possible thing that could've ever happened," said Wise.
The circumstances of the death have caught the attention of CPS and Child Care Licensing. Both agencies are now investigating the child's death. A spokeswoman tells 12 News partner station WFAA the address on the 600 block of Woodpecker Lane was not licensed as a child care operation, but the home does have a history with CPS. Spokeswoman Marissa Gonzales would not divulge what that history is or when it happened, due to privacy laws.
Outside of Megan Norris' home in Weatherford, neighbors realized something was wrong Tuesday morning when they saw people crying and consoling each other.
"They're hugging and crying, put their heads down," recalls neighbor Anjeanette Weger.
Weger and friend Charles Gretts said Megan appeared to be doting, always with her baby. Police say she was at work at the time he died.
"I hope the baby’s in heaven, you know?" Weger says through tears.
Police say they have not arrested the babysitter, but are not ruling out the possibility of charges as the investigation goes on.
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