Authorities believe boy died of cold exposure after wandering from home day after 3rd birthday

BURKE COUNTY, North Carolina -- Deputies are investigating after they said a toddler was found dead outside a home early Wednesday morning in Burke County, N.C.

Officials told WSOC that they were called to the home on Hopewell Road, just south of Morganton, around 7 a.m. and found a 3-year-old boy dead outside.

Authorities said that someone driving by the home spotted the child and called 911.

Investigators think the boy, who had turned 3 the day before, wandered outside sometime during the night and may have died as a result of exposure to the cold.

Deputies told WSOC that when they got to the home the front door was open and the mother was still asleep inside.

Wind-chill values in the High Country were below zero that night.

The name of the child has not been released and deputies closed down Hopewell Road while they investigated.