Lance Williams Sr.
Polk County (Iowa) Jail

A Des Moines, Iowa, father says that he fell asleep in a car while his 6-month-old son was dying in the backseat from heat exposure in sweltering afternoon heat, police say, according to the Des Moines Register.

However, according to the report, detectives do not believe his story.

Lance Jordan Williams Sr. was charged with child endangerment after authorities say the baby was left in the sweltering vehicle the afternoon of June 11 as outside temperatures hovered at 89 degrees but, with the heat index, temps felt like 97, according to the criminal complaint.

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Authorities say that they believe, based on interviews with Williams and witnesses, that Williams left the baby in his car and went into a barbershop for "an extended period of time" before the child was found unresponsive.

Williams initially told police a different story, authorities say, telling them that he had parked behind the barbershop with his son in the backseat and had started to play a game on his phone while the car was turned off.

Williams then said that he fell asleep in the front seat and woke up at a time that police redacted from the report. When he woke up, Williams reportedly told authorities that he got out of the car to use the bathroom, “but quickly turned around only a few steps away from the vehicle because he remembered [the child] was in the backseat.”

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The father found the child unresponsive and called 911 before deciding to drive to a medical center.

"The investigation has identified inconsistencies in his statements," Des Moines Police Sgt. Paul Parizek said. "Detectives believe that he was not sleeping in the car at the time the child died."

While it is likely the child died from heat exposure, an official cause of death has not been determined, since the Polk County medical examiner has yet to release autopsy results.

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A friend of Williams, Marques Brooks, told the Register that Williams is a "great guy" who loved his family and was just trying to succeed as a business owner.

“He’s a great guy. He’s naturally a kindhearted person. He loves kids, and he has a big family,” Brooks said. “He’s just trying to make his mark in Iowa as a black businessman. It’s a little difficult to do out here.”

Brooks said that Williams had been planning to encourage kids to read aloud as they got haircuts, with books in the barbershop to promote their education.

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“As far as what occurred, I don’t know what to say. I just think that we have to be more careful as a parent. It’s very unfortunate,” Brooks said.

Williams is being held on a $25,000 and is due in court Wednesday.

Read more at the Des Moines Register.