NEW INFORMATION: Pastor says boy found in trunk had keys with him

By: WEAU 13 News Staff Email
By: WEAU 13 News Staff Email

DRESSER, Wis. (AP) -- The pastor of a Wisconsin family whose 2-year-old boy was found dead in the trunk of a car says the toddler had the keys to the car with him.

The Rev. Rick Van Gundy of St. Peter's Community Church in Dresser says he got the information from the family of Isaiah Theis (teyes). He tells The Associated Press Isaiah had several sets of keys with him when a deputy found his body Wednesday in the trunk of a car on his parents' property, where the boy's father runs an auto repair business.

Preliminary autopsy results say Isaiah likely died of hyperthermia due to the heat.

Polk County investigators have not yet said how Isaiah got in the trunk when he disappeared Tuesday night from his home near Centuria in western Wisconsin.

AP-WF-07-20-13 1815GMT


BALSAM LAKE, Wis. (WEAU) – Preliminary autopsy results show that a two-year-old boy who was found dead in the trunk of a car likely died of hyperthermia, a condition where body temperature spikes.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Department released the information Friday afternoon. The Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office in Minnesota did the autopsy on Thursday. The report says that the manner of death for Isaiah Theis, 2, of Centuria is pending an investigation. A toxicology report is also pending.

The report goes on to say that Theis was a normally developed, well-nourished two-year-old. It says there were no life-threatening, traumatic injuries or signs of disease. The Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office in Minnesota also did not find any fractures.

A deputy found Theis’ body in the trunk of the car at his parents’ home Wednesday night. His father repairs cars there. The car belonged to one of his customers.
BALSAM LAKE, Wis. (WEAU) – Investigators expect to release preliminary results of the autopsy on
a toddler found dead in the trunk of a car Friday afternoon.

Polk County Sheriff Pete Johnson told WEAU 13 News via email that he would email the information, and may read it for television reporters later in the afternoon, but does not expect to answer any questions about it.

A deputy found Theis’ body in the trunk of the car at his parents’ home Wednesday night. His father repairs cars there. The car belonged to one of his customers.
BALSAM LAKE, Wis. (AP) -- An investigator says he wishes searchers had thought earlier of forcing open the trunk of a car where a western Wisconsin toddler was found dead.

A deputy found the body of 2-year-old Isaiah Theis in the trunk of a car at his parents' home near Centuria Wednesday night. The father repairs cars there and the car belonged to a customer.

Polk County Chief Deputy Steve Moe tells reporters investigators didn't have access to keys to the cars. He says they had presumed the boy wandered off Tuesday night, which he had a tendency to do, and that all the customers' cars were locked.

Moe declined to speculate how Isaiah ended up in the trunk. He says the autopsy is being expedited but he doesn't expect results Thursday.
BALSAM LAKE, Wis. (AP) -- Sheriff's officials say the body of a missing western Wisconsin toddler has been found in the trunk of a car near his home.

Two-year-old Isaiah Theis has been the subject of a widespread search since his disappearance Tuesday evening in Polk County.

The sheriff's department issued a statement Thursday which says searchers had looked into the locked vehicle and the area around it after the boy went missing from his home near Centuria. When the owner of the car arrived to remove it about 10 p.m. Wednesday, a deputy opened the trunk and found the boy's body.

Authorities say the cause and manner of the child's death is under investigation.
BALSAM LAKE, Wis. (POLK COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT NEWS RELEASE) – On 7/17/2013 at approximately 10:15 P.M., the body of two year old Isaiah Theis was located in the trunk of a locked vehicle located near the residence where he lived. Initial reports indicate that while the vehicle had been looked into and the area around the vehicle had been searched several times, searchers had been advised that the vehicle had been locked prior to Isaiah being reported as missing and that it was extremely unlikely that he could have been in it based on that information.

At about 10:00 P.M. the owner of the car arrived to remove it. Prior to the owner leaving with the car, a deputy opened the trunk and Isaiah was located.

The death of an otherwise healthy two-year old boy requires a complete and thorough investigation as to any possible cause, whether that cause is accidental or criminal. At this very early stage of the investigation, the cause and manner of death is unknown.

The scene was processed by the Wisconsin Department of Justice with the assistance of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and the Polk County Medical Examiner’s Office.

A full autopsy has been requested and it would be inappropriate for anyone to speculate as to the cause and nature of death until that examination has been done.

The investigation into Isaiah’s death is being conducted by investigators of DOJ’s Division of Criminal Investigation, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, and the Polk County Medical Examiner’s office.

Registrations at the staging area indicate that approximately 2450 civilian volunteers assisted with the search throughout the day on the 17th. Without the assistance of those volunteers, we would not have been able to adequately search the areas that needed to be searched. I couldn’t be more impressed by the compassion of the people living in this area. THANK YOU! To everyone that came to assist in the search, that provided food, water, and other supplies, or who assisted in many other ways to support this enormous effort.
UPDATE AT 7:30 AM: BALSAM LAKE, Wis. (AP) -- The search for a missing western Wisconsin toddler is over.

Polk County sheriff's officials say 2-year-old Isaiah Theis was found dead by a law enforcement officer just after 10 p.m. Wednesday.

No further details were released by the sheriff's department. We expect to learn more later this morning.

Several hundred volunteers helped law enforcement officers search the fields and woods surrounding the family's rural home near Centuria. The boy disappeared Tuesday night after playing in his home with his brother.


OVERNIGHT UPDATE: BALSAM LAKE, Wis. (AP) -- Polk County Sheriff Peter Johnson has confirmed that the body of Isaiah Theis was found dead by a law enforcement officer just after 10 PM Wednesday night.

Johnson said no further details on the case will be released until Thursday morning.

Stay with WEAU 13 News for the latest on this developing story.


UPDATE AT 10 PM: Deputies say the toddler is still missing. Search is officially suspended until 6 a.m. but local volunteer searcher Mary Pohl tells Sarah Stokes that some volunteers are still walking the roads with flashlights tonight.


UPDATE AT 6 PM: A Chippewa Falls woman talked to us by phone as she prepared to search for the toddler. Mandy Pohl says 100 volunteers are going in lines of 10 shoulder to shoulder to search for one hour shifts. She is one of several people from our area helping in the search. WEAU's Kevin Hurd will bring us that side of this story tonight at 10 p.m.

Our sister station says the Pierce Co. sheriff is on scene helping and as of 5:30 p.m. law enforcement says there's no new update, and they will brief the media at 8:30 p.m.


UPDATE AT 2 PM: City workers say about 1,000 people have come through in the search efforts. The search is staging at an electric co-op building (directions below).

Isaiah Theis has been missing from his rural home near Centuria since last evening. His mother tells Polk County sheriff's deputies her son was last seen in the house playing with his brother. Family, friends and neighbors began a search for the boy after his parents realized he had wandered away.

Law enforcement was called and dozens of volunteers joined in the search until early this morning. That search resumed again at daybreak.

Sheriff Peter Johnson says searchers are conducting a slower, detailed search of some of the ground they covered Tuesday night. The sheriff is asking that volunteers report to the Polk-Burnet complex in Centuria.

From the south: take highway 8 to highway 35 north (not the interstate, if you get there, that's too far, the building is before St. Croix Falls and on the southern edge of Centuria).

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