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Death of boy found in suitcase attributed to ‘electrolyte imbalance’

SELLERSBURG, Ind. (WISH) — The death of a boy found in April in a suitcase in southern Indiana has been attributed to electrolyte imbalance, an Indiana State Police spokesman said Friday afternoon as he read from a coroner’s report.

The unidentified Black boy is believed to be around 5 years old based on a dental examination.

Troopers said April 17 that someone on a mushroom hunt a day earlier found the boy’s body in a suitcase with an image of the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign. On April 19, state police revealed the boy was found in the 7000 block of East Holder Road, about 2 miles northeast of New Pekin, a Washington County town of about 1,400. It’s about a 50-minute drive north of Louisville, Kentucky, along I-65, Indiana State Road 160, and rural county roads.

Sgt. Carey Huls of the state police on Friday read from the coroner’s report sent to state police investigators: “Death in this male child of unknown age is attributed to electrolyte imbalance. This is most likely secondary to a viral gastroenteritis. Blood toxicology studies are negative. There are no significant injuries.”

WebMD says an electrolyte imbalance is caused when a person loses a large amount of body fluids. For example, sweating or vomiting can lower the levels of some electrolytes in the body. It can be caused by not eating or drinking enough. Symptoms can include cramps, dizziness, an irregular heartbeat and mental confusion.

“Viral gastroenteritis” is better known as stomach flu, which can cause causes diarrhea, nausea, and possibly vomiting, according to WebMD.

News 8 reached out to Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis for more information, but it was unable to provide an expert on Friday to discuss what state police shared from the coroner’s report.

State police say the boy was Black, stood about 4 feet tall with a slim build, and had a short haircut.

Detectives on the case have no evidence that leads them to believe the child was alive when placed into the suitcase, state police say.

In addition to the coroner’s report, Huls said, the boy was wearing clothes and appeared to be relatively well-cared-for, with normal growth and development. He had no other traumatic injuries on his body, Huls said.

Huls in surprised they’ve been unable to identify the child by now. However, he says several “technologies,” which he declined to describe, are being used by investigators and could provide a lead any day.

A representative of The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which is assisting in the case, told News 8 in April that state police are making all the right moves to identify the boy.

Huls has previously said that being unable to identify someone is rare for Indiana.

Anyone with information for police was asked to call 888-437-6432.