Panel finds deaths of New Albany mom, two kids accidental
The deaths of a mother and her two children found dead in a southern Indiana creek are now being called accidental.
A prosecutor says Jaime Clutter and her children, whose naked bodies were found in a shallow New Albany creek in March, drowned after suffering disorientation caused by hypothermia.
Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson says, based on the evidence he's seen, hypothermia is the most logical explanation in a case that really doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
"We all want answer and we want to know what happened and rightfully so," Henderson told WAVE-TV in Louisville. "But sometimes, we can't do that."
The closest he can come, Henderson says, is to look at what the experts have to say, and that is that hypothermia can make us do things we wouldn't otherwise consider.
"You have to have a mental intent to commit a crime," Henderson said.
Temperatures were in the 30s, with snow flurries in the air, the day Clutter and her children, 10-year-old Brandon and six-month-old Katelyn, died. According to Princeton University, such extreme cold can cause irrational behavior, including taking off clothes, as it appeared Clutter did.
"Can become very confused, disoriented," Henderson said.
Just how long the family was outside is unclear. Henderson says some time after Clutter's husband, Mike, left for work around 5 a.m., she left the apartment, leaving behind her own eyeglasses and all of their winter coats.
"What happened that morning, we're not certain. But something caused her great concern or frightened her to leave the apartment," Henderson said.
Just after 7 a.m., Jaime Clutter knocked on a neighbor's door.
"It appeared that she wanted to come into the home with the children, that she was concerned about something. Looking around, appeared to be disturbed," Henderson said.
Hours later, the bodies of Clutter and her children were found in the creek.
Henderson says there were no signs of a struggle and no signs that Brandon, who by all accounts, was smart and engaging, was held underwater or fought anyone off. All of that evidence, he says, led the grand jury to its conclusion.
"They do not believe that Jaime Clutter killed her two children, nor do they believe that Jaime Clutter drowned her two children, and finally, they don't believe that Jaime Clutter committed suicide," Henderson said.
Henderson says it's difficult to tell if Clutter suffered from either psychosis or post-partum depression, because there were no mental health records. But he added that although friends said she had expressed concerns about what was going on in the world and the crowded family living in a new apartment, no one ever thought the children were in danger.