BOONEVILLE • It will be up to a Prentiss County grand jury to decide if the Aug. 16 death of a small child in a hot car was accidental or criminal.
Booneville Police Chief Michael Ramey said Friday the evidence gathered in the case will be presented to the grand jury. That body of 20 citizens will determine whether any criminal charges are brought against the father.
Police were called to North Second Street (Highway 145) around 5 p.m. Aug. 16 to a parking lot shared by Mighty Cubs Daycare and Field of Dreams Adult Daycare. Responding officers found 21-month-old Lincoln Dodds unresponsive in the car. The child was pronounced dead at the scene.
Booneville PD, Prentiss County Coroner Greg Sparks and Child Protective Services launched a joint investigation, interviewing witnesses and viewing surveillance video.
Authorities said the father, Seth Dodds forgot to drop him off at the daycare that morning. Instead, the child was left in the father’s car all day outside a Booneville workplace. It was only when the father went to the daycare that afternoon to pick up his son that the child was found still in the vehicle.
“It has been determined it was outside of the father’s normal routine to drop the child off at the daycare,” Ramey said. “His wife was out of town, so he was responsible for dropping the child off that day.
“He passed by the daycare on his way to work, arrived at work, and completed his workday prior to going to the daycare that evening and discovering his son’s body.”
Authorities stressed that the staff at neither daycare was in anyway involved in the death of Dodds. The preliminary autopsy report from the Office of the Mississippi State Medical Examiner reported hyperthermia (having a body temperature greatly above normal) as the cause of death.
Booneville attorney Casey Lott, who is representing Seth Dodds, said he was disappointed the incident was not ruled a tragic accident.
“Just because the case is presented to the grand jury for consideration does not mean that the grand jury will find probable cause to indict Mr. Dodds,” Lott said. “Mr. Dodds has been fully cooperative with the authorities throughout this entire process.
“This is just an unfortunate tragedy that is the result of a good man and a loving father going through his usual morning routine on an unusual day that was not supposed to be routine. Mr. Dodds certainly has not committed any criminal act.”
The next Prentiss County grand jury is not scheduled to meet until late October.