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Autopsy: Durham 4-year-old was suffocated

Posted June 16, 2011

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— A 4-year-old Durham boy who was killed last fall died of asphyxiation, according to an autopsy report released Thursday.

Blake Mitchell was killed early Sept. 22 in the family home at 17 Thistle Trace in Durham County.

Authorities have charged his father, Joseph Anthony Mitchell, 46, with first-degree murder in his death. Joseph Mitchell also faces two counts of attempted first-degree murder.

Two other children in the home at the time, Devon Mitchell, 10, and Lexi Mitchell, 13, told investigators that they awoke to find their father trying to cover their mouths or faces, and they had to fend him off, according to a search warrant.

Joseph Mitchell was found with stab wounds and cuts that authorities say were self-inflicted.

The family had suffered numerous financial setbacks, and neither Joseph Mitchell nor his wife had reliable incomes, investigators said.

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  • anneonymousone Jun 16, 2011

    Maybe, as a society, it would be a good idea to reconsider the notions that money=success, that affluence=happiness, that excess=almost enough, and that a man's worth can be known by looking at his bank account, house, and car. Parenting is not the same as a paycheck.

    I do not know the situation these folks were living with, and I make no accusations. I just think it's worth noting that societal ideas can contribute to despair and can contribute to the misperceptions caused by bad brain chemistry.

  • carla349 Jun 16, 2011

    Sometimes the wife can't earn any more then she would have to pay for daycare in order to work. No, it doesn't always work out that 2 incomes are better then one.

    And the economy has tanked. Many, many people have lost their jobs. Very few murdered their children because of it. The man lost his mind. It's not the wife's fault and it's not the economy's fault.

  • hallmark Jun 16, 2011

    Why didn't the wife work too? In this economy, one income is no longer sufficient for most common folks who are living within their means.

  • kidsrn Jun 16, 2011

    This is tragic. Can't imagine how this has affected the other 2 children or the mother. Good Lord.

  • storchheim Jun 16, 2011

    Don't blame money. I'm a single-earner household, just lost my job, generally been through hell in the last year. Did I kill my child? No. Did I kick the trashcan? Yes. Don't excuse this monster's behavior.

  • orangemoonlite Jun 16, 2011

    RB aka Spirit Warrior Woman...
    They WERE in over their heads & were doing nothing about it but continuing to live the same lifestyle. Big expensive house in upscale neighborhood; 4 or 5 cars in the driveway (can't remember which); kids going to expensive private schools - parents had not worked in 2 years, except Mom selling Avon. The papers then said that the mortgage company had attempted to foreclose on this house at least 3 times during the last 4 years; and they were to be kicked out of it in the coming months (last year). This father had the kids life insurance policies on his desk when all this took place, plus a ski mask, knife & "something" else I cannot remember. He had planned it &, from the info back then, sounded like he was gonna blame it on an intruder. Crazy people.

  • mjlt3 Jun 16, 2011

    How sad ...... trying to keep up with the Jone's cause him to take his own son life ! Money is the root of all evil (so true) How about we as people go back to the "simple life" ! Learn to live and to love one another again. No excuse for his behavior....

  • MonkeyFace Jun 16, 2011

    so sad

  • RB aka Spirit Warrior Woman Jun 16, 2011

    koolady -

    "People get in over their heads and then wonder why they are stressed out."

    We don't know they were in over their heads. In today's economy, even having the money to buy the most basic groceries can put people "in over their heads."

    "Killing one's own child is a despicable thing to do."

    That I agree with. I can't imagine what this father was thinking.

    Praying for the family.

  • sssh.. whisper Jun 16, 2011

    It is a shame that the innocent died and the guilty lives on..

    RIP little one.

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