Autopsy results confirm Iron County toddler froze to death

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IRON COUNTY, MO (KTVI) - A preliminary autopsy is complete on a  three-year-old boy who went missing Wednesday from his grandfather's home in Ironton.  Investigators hope it solves the mystery of how Titus Tackett died.

Iron County Coroner Tony Cole was on-hand when the pathologist performed the autopsy. Cole said preliminary results show the frigid weather was too much for the little boy.

“It was hypothermia. There’s no internal injuries; we cannot find anything that would lead us to believe other than accidental death by hypothermia at this time,” he said.

Cole said there was no bruising or signs of abuse.

Titus Tackett and his mother were in the area visiting a home about five miles from Ironton. Wednesday night, Titus’ mother and a friend went into Ironton and she left the boy with another family member. When she returned home, between midnight and 1 a.m., the door was open and Titus was gone.

A search began and dozens of volunteers showed up to help. Titus’ body was found about a half-mile from his house around 11 a.m. He was inside a mini-van. He was wearing only his underwear. People grew suspicious. They wanted to know how a three-year-old could open a van door. The coroner said the boy spent a lot of time watching his adults in his family work on cars.

“The kid has experience,” Cole said. “He can start a four-wheeler, an ATV; he’s very versed at opening car doors. He’s advance for a three-year-old in that area.”

Other folks didn’t understand how Titus could walk so far in the frigid weather.

Cole said the boy was no stranger to walking barefoot.

“Kids are tough at the age, tougher than what we think they are,” he said. “I don’t think they know they are in trouble or not.”

Meanwhile, members of the Child Fatality Review Panel met again Thursday afternoon. It’s required by law when a child dies. The panel is comprised of members of the sheriff’s department, health department, DFS, juvenile workers, the FBI, Missouri Highway Patrol, and other agencies. Highway Patrol and agencies who have been working the case get together. They share information they’ve learned in the past day to find out what led to Titus’ death.

“This is far from over. Right now we have a preliminary cause of death, but everybody is being interviewed,” said Russ Allen, chairman of the panel. “There’s a possibility charges could come later; that would lie with our prosecutor.”

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