Cause of Death of Boy, 5, Found in Suitcase in Indiana Now Known, But His Identity Still a Mystery, Cops Say

Las Vegas Suitcase
Indiana State Police

The little boy found dead inside a suitcase in Indiana died due to an electrolyte imbalance, an autopsy determined, providing some answers in a case full of questions that investigators are still working to answer.

Investigators have learned the cause of death of a little boy whose remains were found in a suitcase in Indiana in April, but who the child was or how he wound up in a piece of luggage, officials said. 

The child, believed to have been about 5 years old, died due to an electrolyte imbalance, Indiana State Police said Friday. 

An autopsy report said the little boy likely suffered from a viral gastroenteritis, which caused the imbalance. Such a condition could lead to vomiting and diarrhea, which could then lead to dehydration, officials said. 

There were no foreign substances in the child’s system, and he had no significant external injuries.

The boy was found clean and clothed when a local man out hunting for mushrooms discovered the hard-shell case approximately 80 feet off Holder Road in a heavily wooded area of eastern Washington County in southern Indiana, authorities said.

The luggage had a "distinctive Las Vegas design on its front and back,” police said. After finding the luggage, the man called 911, officials said.

“Detectives also stated they have no evidence which leads them to believe the child was alive when placed into the suitcase,” police said in a statement. 

Officials shared the image of the suitcase, hoping it would lead to tips that can help them identify the child.

Investigators are working with several outside agencies to identify the child and determine how he ended up in the suitcase, but thus far, those questions remain unanswered. 

“Although numerous tips have been called into the nationwide tip line, detectives have not been able to identify the boy,” Indiana State Police said. “Investigators are not ruling out the possibility that the child could be from out of state or even out of the country.” 

The boy was described as a Black male, about 4 feet tall with a slim build and a short haircut. He’s assumed to have been around 5 years old. Officials suspect he died within a week of being placed in the suitcase. 

"It's a very odd, tragic case," Sgt. Carey Huls of the Indiana State Police told WDRB-TV. "Of the documented children that are missing on the missing children's lists across the country, at this point here's no match on any child that's listed as missing."

Authorities do not plan to release any renderings or drawings of the child at this time, Huls said, noting that sometimes those images “can lead to misconceptions as well.

"They (detectives) feel it's in the best interest of the case not to do that," he said.

Anyone with information that could help identify the boy is urged to call the toll-free tip number at 1-888-437-6432.

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