BALSAM LAKE, Wis. – A 2-year-old western Wisconsin boy who died in a locked trunk likely died soon after his family reported him missing, a medical examiner said Tuesday.
The body of Isaiah Theis was found in the trunk of a car last week on his family's property near Centuria, where the boy's father runs an auto repair business. A preliminary autopsy shows the boy died from hyperthermia — a condition in which the body temperature spikes — due to the blistering heat.
Changes in Isaiah's body "were consistent with him dying soon after the time he was last known to be alive," the Midwest Medical Examiner's Office in Anoka, Minn., said in a statement.
"It is most likely that Isaiah was deceased, or had experienced irreversible damage, by 9 p.m. if he was already in the trunk around the time it was reportedly realized he was missing," Dr. A. Quinn Strobl of the Midwest Medical Examiner's Office said in the statement.
The Star Tribune in Minneapolis reported that the boy's mother told investigators he was last seen about 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday of last week while playing with his 7-year-old brother at their home about 60 miles northeast of St. Paul, Minn. The boy's family and friends searched for him and then notified the sheriff's office in Polk County around 8:50 p.m. when they couldn't find him.
A public visitation for Isaiah was to be held Tuesday at Trollhaugen ski resort in Dresser. A private funeral is planned for Wednesday in St. Croix Falls.
The family's pastor, the Rev. Rick Van Gundy, told the Star Tribune that the boy likely climbed into the car trunk himself after grabbing the keys. Sheriff Peter Johnson confirmed in a news release Tuesday that the key for the car was found inside the trunk with Isaiah.
About 2,450 civilian volunteers helped search the fields and woods surrounding the family's home throughout the day last Wednesday. But nobody looked into the trunk until the car's owner came to retrieve it that night. A deputy found the boy's body in the trunk.