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Fire Was Set To Cover-up Boy's Neglect Death, Prosecutor Says
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 7, 2003

ANDERSON, INDIANA--On January 21, firefighters responding to a house fire in Elwood, Illinois found the burned body of 8-year-old Mark Adrian Norris II.

Officials believed at first that the boy, who had cerebral palsy and epilepsy and used a wheelchair, died in the blaze that consumed his family's single-story home.

But autopsy results tell a different story: The county coroner confirmed Friday that Mark died of pneumonia at least one day before the fire.

During a press conference Madison County Coroner Marian Dunnichay said there was no smoke in Mark's breathing passages, indicating that he was not breathing at the time of the fire. The autopsy also showed signs of malnourishment, extensive muscle deterioration and several bedsores. Additionally, toxicology tests found no traces of the medication Mark should have received to control his seizures.

Prosecutor Rodney Cummings said Jennifer Norris, Mark's mother, is suspected of letting her son die and then setting the fire to conceal the real cause of his death.

"The child died, and at some point -- probably a day or two before the fire was set -- the mother discovered her child had died, and the fire occurred as a mechanism to cover up the death -- that's what I suspect probably happened," Cummings explained.

Mark's mother, his 1-year-old sister and 5-year-old brother all escaped from the fire unharmed.

Cummings said he is considering filing neglect and reckless homicide charges against Jennifer Norris.


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