Carter County Sheriff Chris Mathes told News Channel 11 Saturday, an autopsy revealed 4-year-old Coty Cox was shot in the head with a metal BB.
The small metal object was pulled out of Cox's head during the autopsy, counter to police being told he fell while jumping on a bed.
Cox suffered one shot that took his life. The incident happened just before 1:00 PM Tuesday at a trailer off Lover's Lane in Elizabethton when Cox was left alone with his 10-year-old brother and 13-year-old cousin.
Sheriff Mathes said things were just not matching up between the injuries and the story of the two juveniles. At this time because they were mislead in the beginning, they need to get all the facts, and figure out what did and did not happen. They also need answers to how long the mother was actually gone for. Also, because they are dealing with juveniles, it is a much more sensitive situation, but at this time they're not ruling out anything.
"An accidental shooting has not been ruled out, but there's also other factors of conditions. Conditions of the house, conditions of the children being left alone and their capabilities," said Sheriff Mathes.
Sheriff Mathes also told News Channel 11 that this is a senseless death that should have never happened.
At this time no charges have been filed.
Because the two involved were 10 and 13 deputies are speaking with mental health counselors and the District Attorney to see if there is any evidence of a crime.
The investigation is ongoing.
Until autopsy results reveal otherwise, Carter County investigators say the death of a four year-old boy remains suspicious.
Just before 1 p.m. Tuesday, the Carter County Sheriff's Office sent officers to a mobile home in a trailer park along Lovers Lane in Elizabethton.
Inside the home, deputies found the lifeless body of Coty Cox, age 4. Investigators say the boy suffered from severe head trauma.
"When you start putting little kids in body bags it's disturbing," Sheriff Chris Mathes said.
Sheriff Mathes told News Channel 11 the boy was left alone with his 13 year-old cousin and 10 year-old brother while the boy's mother was away at the store. According to a police report, the boy's mother said she had not been gone very long.
The boys told investigators Cox fell while jumping on a bed. According to the sheriff, there was a dresser near the bed and that boy may have hit his head on the piece of furniture.
"Freak accidents do happen, but we are looking into other things that could be possible there for the cause of death," Sheriff Mathes said. "Accidents do happen, but we want to make sure that is indeed what happened."
Mathes tells us the 13 year-old and 10 year-old boys carried Cox to a neighbor's house and the neighbor called 911.
That neighbor was Betty Markland, Cox's great aunt. She says she tried to perform CPR on him while he fought for his life.
"He was just like a special little boy," Markland said. "I could shut my eyes and I could see him laying there (on my couch). It was just so hard. I couldn't sleep last night. I couldn't shut my eyes without seeing it. His brother was crying and the other little boy, he acted real scared."
The boy was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Sheriff Mathes says he has no reason to believe anyone had a motive to kill Cox.
Mathes says he hasn't filed any criminal charges at this point. However, he says investigators are looking at the possibility of filing neglect charges in the case if they're warranted.
"Some 13 year-olds are very mature and are more capable of watching, but you're asking him to watch after a 10 year-old and a four year-old," Mathes said. "At what point does it get to be too much? You've got a 13 year-old there and a 10 year-old. To me, that's plenty to supervise without throwing a four year-old into the mix."
According to Mathes, investigators also found two BB guns inside the home.
"(They were) in the child's bedroom," Mathes said. "We don't know if that could've been a part of an injury."
Regardless what direction this case goes, the sheriff says it should serve as a reminder to all parents.
"Hopefully, another mom and dad out there, maybe considering leaving their child alone, maybe this will be a lesson to them not to do that," Mathes said. "My heart goes out to these parents."
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