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Non-verbal man with Down’s syndrome ‘baked’ to death in hot car after his carer ‘got high and had a nap’


A NONVERBAL man with Down’s Syndrome baked to death in a car after his carer fell asleep while high on drugs, police believe.

John LaPointe, 35, who had the cognitive ability of a one-year-old, was roasted alive after spending three hours in the vehicle in Pinellas County, Florida in May.

Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office

John LaPointe, (L) baked to death in a hot car after his carer Joshua Russell fell asleep[/caption]

His carer Joshua Russell, 26, is thought to have nodded off after taking kratom, which can be used as a recreational drug.

Detectives believe the temperature in the van was 125F when LaPointe died.

Russell was arrested on Friday and has been charged with manslaughter.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtiere said: “Let’s just call it what it is. This poor guy baked in that car.

‘ABSOLUTELY HORRIFIC’

“I’m sure he had to suffer. It had to be absolutely horrific in that car for that man.”

Russell had taken LaPointe, who has a hearing impediment, to the doctor’s on the day of his death, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said.

But he took two packets of the herbal supplement kratom, which is made from a substance found in trees, the sheriff’s office believe.

He then tried to drive the van to the Crossroads of Pinellas care home where LaPointe lived and he worked.

But Russell felt “nauseous” and couldn’t finish the journey.

Let’s just call it what it is. This poor guy baked in that car. I’m sure he had to suffer


Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtiere

Russell told cops he woke up “two or three hours later” and was “covered in sweat”.

He saw LaPointe in the back of his van and began to do CPR.

After that he called his mum before ringing the police.

But Russell had fled before cops arrived and was found in woods with a gun threatening to kill himself.

Police arrested him, but are not sure how he survived in the boiling hot van when LaPointe died.


Russell has been charged with aggravated manslaughter following an investigation.

An online tribute to LaPointe said: “John has an infectious smile, angelic sweet gentle spirit and so enjoyed watching Barney cartoons on his tablet.

“John was a beautiful human being loved by all and will forever be in our hearts.”


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