Justin Ross Harris, Father of Toddler Killed in Hot Car, Charged with Murder

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Friends, neighbors and the entire community of Marietta, Ga., were stunned by the death of a 22-month-old toddler who perished in a hot car last month.

The shock was amplified tenfold when father Justin Ross Harris, 33, known to friends as Ross and a web developer for Home Depot, was charged with murder.

He earned $61,200 per year and hoped to advance in the company; wife Leanna Harris, 30, was a licensed dietitian who often worked out of her home.

The family had all the signs of an upwardly mobile middle-class family: a nice home, newer cars, computers and cell phones, even a small dog.

That image was shattered when their son Cooper died in a hot car on June 18, leading to Justin Ross Harris arrest for murder and child cruelty.

Ross allegedly sent explicit texts to women as his son lay dying, took out an insurance policy on the boy and searched the web for info on suffocation in a hot car.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges and remains in jail without bond. His attorney, Maddox Kilgore, calls Cooper's death a "tragic accident."

Whatever happened, everyone know knows the family is astonished.

"We were shocked," says the church friend. "I'm still not sure that I believe everything they're saying about him ... they really seemed to love that boy."

If Leanna had her way, Cooper wouldn't be an only child, according to the church friend, who says as recently as last winter, she wanted more kids.

"She told me that she wanted an even number of kids, so each kid would have someone to play with," says the friend. "She said that she ideally wanted two boys and two girls."

Somewhere along the line, the couple's plans changed.

"I think it was in May when she told me that 'now is not the time for more kids,'" says the friend. "I didn't press her to find out what had changed.

On July 3, prosecutors painted Ross Harris as an unfaithful husband who felt trapped by his family and had a penchant for talking to women online.

"He was socially awkward," says college friend Brett Wagner. "He was deep into chatting online, even back in college. He wasn't great around women in person."

Adds another college pal: "He always had a ton of computers, hard drives, all that, in his bedroom. He played online games and chatted with people all the time."

Police have remained mum about some of the investigation details, although a team of detectives are poring over his online history, Detective Phil Stoddard said.

"We've only just scratched the surface," said Stoddard.

On Wednesday, police returned to the parking lot where Cooper died, parking the family's Hyundai SUV in the same spot that it had been parked on June 18.

They put Cooper's rear-facing car seat in the vehicle and started testing everything from temperature to the odor inside the car, looking for insight and evidence.

O.J. Simpson
O.J. Simpson was arrested for the murder of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ronald Goldman, leading to the trial of the century in 1994-95.

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