If Your Google Search History Can Get You Arrested, All Moms Are Screwed
Two weeks ago we covered the horrific death of 22-month-old Cooper Harris, whose father, Justin Ross Harris, left him in a sweltering car for over eight hours, after allegedly researching child deaths in vehicles online. Last week Harris was charged with Cooper’s murder, and is currently in jail without bond. Now it’s being reported that Cooper’s mother, Leanna Harris, told authorities that she too researched this grisly subject, which has cast suspicion onto her as well. And it does seem strange that both Justin and his wife took the time to Google this specific subject not long before their son died under the same circumstances. But is it really all that suspicious? If you look deep enough, wouldn’t every parent have some questionable search results on their computer?
Now, we obviously don’t have all the facts, seeing as there is still an open investigation going on, and considering that they arrested Justin Harris, I’m assuming investigators have more to go on than simple Internet browser history. But according to a police affidavit, both Leanna and Justin used an Internet search engine to research children who have died in hot cars, how these deaths occurred and what temperature the car needs to get to for hyperthermia to set in. Both parents claim they were worried about this happening to their son and wanted to research ways to prevent it. And if I didn’t know that the father had already been arrested, I would think this is a pretty reasonable explanation. According to CNN:
“Justin stated that he was fearful that this could happen,” the police affidavit said.
In the document released Sunday, police say that during questioning Leanna Harris “made similar statements regarding researching in car deaths and how it occurs.”
The time frame for when this alleged research took place remains unclear.”
On a weekly basis I find myself Googling all kinds of random potential ways for my kids to die. Recent notable examples are “choking on popcorn,” “strangling on a lamp cord” and “secondary drowning.” I also find myself paying close attention to pretty much every heartbreaking story about a child dying. The thought of losing one of my own children is so sickening and horrifying that I think part of me clings to the notion that if I prepare enough, I will be able to prevent it (as delusional as that sounds). Obviously I know that there is little-to-no risk of my kids dying in some freak accident. And even if they do, there will almost certainly be no way for me to predict or prevent it. But that doesn’t stop my panicked, paranoid mind from obsessing over it anyway. Is this what happened to Justin and Leanna Harris? The details we do have of the case suggest not. But it’s not beyond the realm of possibility. And if we’re now going to play judge, jury and executioner based on Internet search history, is any parent safe?