Autopsy of Highland Park baby is inconclusive

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by REBECCA LOPEZ

Bio | Email | Follow: @rlopezwfaa

WFAA

Posted on October 16, 2012 at 6:00 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 16 at 6:53 PM

HIGHLAND PARK — The autopsy report that many were hoping would give us answers about the death of four-month-old Harrison Rothermel instead has left us more questions.

According to the autopsy report, he suffered blunt force injuries which included contusions on his face and scalp; contusions and abrasions on his body; and a contusion and abrasion on this toes. He also had skull and rib fractures.

But the report didn't conclude that Harrison died as a result of any of these injuries.

Instead, it states, "The child died as a result of peritonitis and sepsis often caused by a defect in the bowel wall."

The autopsy goes on to state that the nature of distribution of blunt force injuries are "suspicious for being a non-accident." But it adds that "peritonitis can be the result of natural disease or inflicted trauma."

Bottom line: The medical examiner simply doesn't know the cause of Harrison's death, which only adds to the mystery.

Highland Park police are going through the autopsy report line-by-line to figure out what to do next.

Police had been investigating the infant's father, Louis, for child abuse. But he committed suicide three days after bringing the injured baby to the hospital.

The family had been investigated by Child Protective Services before this incident and after Harrison Rothermel was diagnosed with a skull fracture a month after birth.

Highland Park continues to try and figure out if the child who also had Down syndrome was a victim of abuse and neglect — or if he simply died of natural causes.

Child Protective Services remains involved in this case as well.

E-mail rlopez@wfaa.com

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