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Family grapples with loss of toddler

They’re ‘heavily grieving’

Posted: July 25, 2008 1:29 a.m.
Updated: September 25, 2008 5:01 a.m.
 
The young Canyon Country couple who now mourns the death of their youngest child is “heavily grieving,” said one of the investigators in the case.

“They’re still extremely upset, extremely distraught and they are heavily grieving,” Homicide Bureau Lt. Dave Dolson of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said Thursday. “The family is suffering mentally and emotionally.”

Scott and Emily Winchester, parents of 23-month-old Jack Roscoe Winchester, of High Point Place, will be permitted to claim the body of their youngest child from the county Coroner’s Office now that doctors have completed their autopsy.

The young couple began renting the two-story house at the end of a cul-de-sac about a year ago, according their landlord.

The mother reportedly stayed at home to raise their three children — a five-year-old, a three-year-old and Jack, aged 23 months.

Whatever caused the death of  their youngest child will not be revealed for another six weeks, said Capt. Ed Winter with the Coroner’s Office.

Doctors have finished their autopsy on the body of the deceased toddler.

On Monday afternoon, Emily Winchester reportedly returned from shopping with her three children, and the two older children entered the family home with her.

After “a considerable amount of time,” had passed, according to Lt. Dave Dolson of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau, the mother found her youngest son dead in the car seat of the family’s red minivan.

Winter told The Signal that results for these types of tests normally take about six weeks to complete.
The tests are being conducted to examine specific and precise aspects of the death, they include:
n Histopathology is the microscopic examination of tissue and usually refers to the examination of a biopsy or surgical specimen.  Normally, this process which requires that a histological specimen be placed onto a microscope’s glass slide allows pathologists to determine the presence of disease.
n Neuropathology is the examination of nervous system tissue to detect the presence of disease. Normally, pathologists examine tiny surgical biopsy samples.
n Toxicology is the examination of biopsy samples to detect the presence of chemicals in the body. Normally, pathologists can determine the adverse effects of particular chemicals on a person’s body.

“The (microscope) slides on those particular tests have been submitted and we will not have a final determination for six weeks,” Winter said. “The cause of death determination is pending the results of those tests.”

Now that autopsy is complete, the boy’s body is expected to be released to his family.

“I believe they can come and make whatever funeral arrangement have to be made,” Winter said.
Sheriff’s investigators probing the death will make no determination in the case until those test results are in.

“We don’t make any determination until then,” Dolson said Thursday. “We proceed in the same way as the Coroner.”

Dolson relayed the same account of what happened Monday as he did the night investigators arrived at the family’s home.

“The mom went out shopping, came home and began putting groceries away and forgot that her youngest kid never came into the house,” Lt. Dolson said. “He was in (the car seat) for about four to five hours.”

“We’re done with most of our investigation and we must now wait for the Coroner’s report,” he said.

Asked if the case is still being treated as a possible homicide, Dolson replied: “Only upon the conclusion of that investigation will we decide on how to proceed. There are various options open for us.

“If the Coroner comes back and says ‘Yes, this is a homicide’ then we’ll probably present that case to the District Attorney,” Dolson said, stressing that his response referred to a hypothetical situation.

“If there is no decision made as to the cause of death and it remains undetermined we still might present a case to the District Attorney’s Office and see if they want to proceed with it,” he said.

Meanwhile, investigators continue to “thoroughly and meticulously process all the evidence,” he added.
“We might have some follow-up interviews, we may want to re-connect with people already interviewed.”

Emily Winchester is not, and was not, in sheriff’s custody.

The night she left the family home with a sheriff’s deputy in a black-and-white cruiser was “under her own consent and of her own free will,” Dolson said.

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