Local News

Autopsy: Durham 4-year-old was suffocated

Posted June 16, 2011 12:35 p.m. EDT

— 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.