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UPDATE 2: Autopsy on dead toddler incomplete

Homicide still not ruled out

Posted: July 22, 2008 7:32 p.m.
Updated: September 23, 2008 5:03 a.m.

UPDATE 2 p.m., July 23:
An autopsy scheduled to be performed on the tiny body of Jack Roscoe Winchester found dead in his family's mini-van Monday is taking longer than expected.

Los Angeles County Coroner Ed Winter told The Signal Wednesday at about 1:30 that autopsy is ongoing.
"The autopsy is going on today and I don't have the results yet," he said.

Winter, who had initially hoped to have a determination as to the child's cause of death by noon Wednesday, is now hoping to have those results Thursday morning.

UPDATE 8 a.m., July 23:
The death of a two-year-old boy whose tiny body was found strapped in the car seat of a minivan parked in the driveway of his family's suburban Canyon Country home is still being treated as a possible homicide.

Los Angeles County Coroner Capt. Ed Winter said Tuesday afternoon that he has not yet determined a cause of death for 23-month-old Jack Roscoe Winchester.

"I'll probably know that after an examination tomorrow," he said Tuesday. "This is currently being investigated as a possible homicide. We won't make a determination until after the autopsy tomorrow."

The autopsy was expected to be conducted this morning with findings expected to be released at about 1 p.m.

Meanwhile, the case remains in the hands of homicide detectives with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

The Winchester family began renting the two-story house on High Point Place about a year ago, their landlord said.

Shortly after 9 p.m. Monday, Jack Winchester's mother was placed in the passenger seat of a black-and-white Sheriff's Department patrol car and taken away for further questioning.

She was not arrested and no charges have been filed in connection with the death.

The investigation is ongoing and homicide investigators assigned to the case, including spokesman Lt.

Dave Dolson were working on the case Tuesday and were not at their office.

Shortly after the mother was taken away as part of the "investigative process" Dolson explained what had happened to young Jack Winchester.

"A mother of this young boy was out running errands, shopping, and when she returned home, two of the three kids got out of the car and went into the house," Dolson told a cluster of reporters gathered at the cul-de-sac Monday night.

"A period of time elapsed and then the mother realized her young son was missing," he said. "The baby was not in the house. She looked for him in the car and found him strapped in the baby seat.

"Apparently he was there for quite a while."

Both of Jack Winchester's parents were described by Dolson as "extremely distraught."

Mo Monfard, who identified himself as the landlord, said he often talked to Jack.

"The boy was a very good boy. I talked to him all the time," he said, adding that he lived two doors down from his tenants. "This is terrible."

Monfard described the young couple as good, nice and hard-working people who moved into the house from another part of Santa Clarita Valley.

He said a neighbor who also lives on the west end phoned him at 4 p.m. to tell him the news.

"My neighbor called me at 4 but this thing happened at noon," he said.

Shortly after 5 p.m., an ambulance arrived at the house.

"I heard the ambulance at 5 o'clock," said neighbor Rosie Martinez. "And, about 10 minutes later I saw the helicopters. Everybody on the street was saying that a baby died in the car."

Within the hour, a man wearing a jacket with the word ‘Coroner' arrived at the house in a white van.

The van left but returned shortly before 9 p.m., Martinez said.

At 9:22 p.m., the dead boy's mother was taken away for further questioning.

Between the time she left and the time Dolson addressed a throng of reporters crowded around yellow police tape stretched across the access road to the cul-de-sac, investigators with flashlights scoured the outside of the Winchester family's red minivan, paying particular attention to the driver's door, the window and the walkway from the van to the front door of the house.

The investigation is ongoing.


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