Thursday, September 28, 2023

The autopsy of 2-year-old Noah Tomlin was released: His mother is now charged with murder

Noah Tomlin (WYDaily/Courtesy of the Hampron Police Division)
Noah Tomlin (WYDaily/Courtesy of the Hampton Police Division)

HAMPTON — The mother of 2-year-old Noah Tomlin is now charged with murder.

The announcement was made during a news conference Thursday by Hampton Commonwealth’s Attorney Anton Bell, who also released the boy’s autopsy result.

Bell said according to the report, Noah Tomlin died from blunt force trauma to the head as well as battered child syndrome.

His mother, Julia Tomlin his now charged with murder and unlawful disposal of a dead body.

Bell said an anthropologist was brought on board the investigation because of the advanced decomposition of the toddler’s body, piecing together bone fragments to reconstruct the skeleton.

The only thing that was recognizable was the liver and the left leg, which has severe bruises, Bell noted.

When asked to describe the state of Noah Tomlin’s body, Bell said imagine an item so to speak that has pamper around it, one leg and some muscle.

“I’ve seen some very graphic things,” Bell said. “Nothing really kind of grabs you like seeing a child or toddler as a victim of a crime.”

“Horrific to say the least.”

The medical examiner noticed there were previous injuries on Noah Tomlin, including jaw fractures and three healing posterior rib fractures as well as hairline fractures in the tibia and radius, which would have stopped the growth of bones, Bell said.

“His abuse was of such a nature, literally his bones stopped growing,” Bell said.

None of the previous injuries were the cause of death, Bell noted, but were contributing factors to the toddler’s death.

Bell said Julia Tomlin is the only one — for now — charged with Noah’s murder but he is looking at “potential alternatives” such as whether the mother had an accomplice who helped her dispose of the body.

“We do know someone helped her dispose of the body,” Bell said.

The toddler’s father was recently identified through DNA testing but Bell declined to release the man’s name.

“I know this action was not just against this child ––– it was against the community,” Bell said. “She [Julia Tomlin] will be held accountable.”

Julia Tomlin (WYDaily/Courtesy of Hampton Police)
Julia Tomlin (WYDaily/Courtesy of Hampton Police)


Noah Tomlin was last seen by his mother on June 24 around 1 a.m. at their home on 191 Atlantic Ave. Trailer 16 in Buckroe Beach.

He was reported missing to police later that morning at 11:36 a.m.

Multiple agencies including the FBI helped search for the missing toddler in the surrounding areas of Buckroe Beach with search teams, drone surveillance and dogs.

In addition, law enforcement also interviewed Noah’s mother, reached out to family members out of state and at one point, stopped trash collection and searched the Bethel Landfill and the Hampton/NASA Steam Plant.

Three days into the search, Hampton Police Chief Terry Sult believed Noah Tomlin to be dead and charged Noah Tomlin’s mother, Julia with three counts of felony child neglect.

The mother’s other children were transferred to relatives and child protective services became involved, Sult said at the time.

Julia Tomlin, 34, was previously charged with one count of felony child neglect and sentenced to five months in jail with a year of probation in 2010, according to the Newport News Circuit Court records.

The six-phase operation for Noah Tomlin continued with four independent searches at the toddlers’ home and two at the steam plant.

Investigative and search teams sifted through about 2 million pounds of garbage and spent 10,000 man hours for Noah Tomlin.

On July 3 at approximately 8:50 a.m. police found the child’s body at the Hampton Steam Plant.


Noah Tomlin’s case affected hundreds of people across the country and the world with multiple Facebook groups dedicated to discussing the toddler’s case. Members chatted about everything from prayers and loving thoughts of Noah and his family to conspiracy theories about who Noah Tomlin’s father was.

Some members even got together and set up a memorial site at a tree in Buckroe Beach named after Noah.

On July 15, shortly after the memorial was created, Noah’s Tree caught fire destroying stuffed animals, flowers, toys and other items people left in memory of the toddler.

While rumors circulated on social media about the fire being set maliciously, the Hampton Fire Department said they had no reason to think the fire was suspicious because of the amount of flammable items and high winds.

Others following Noah Tomlin’s case signed an online petition organized by two women to raise awareness about child abuse and cases similar to Noah’s.

RELATED STORY: These two women are raising awareness about child abuse in honor of Noah Tomlin

The autopsy

WYDaily sent out multiple Freedom of Information Act requests to the medical examiner’s office in Norfolk, asking for a preliminary report of the cause and death of the child. For months, Donna Price, the district administrator for the department, told WYDaily the cause and manner was still pending.

Price added the autopsy results would be take 12-14 weeks to be released but did not have a time frame for this case.

On Oct. 1, in response to another FOIA request, Price told WYDaily in a letter Bell asked the department to withhold the cause and manner of death of Noah Tomlin from the public since the information could potentially jeopardize the prosecution’s case. She further noted future inquires be directed to Bell’s office.

Bell did not release the findings until Oct. 30, a month after WYDaily’s FOIA request to the medical examiner’s office.

Julia Marsigliano
Julia Marsigliano
Julia Marsigliano is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She covers everything on the Peninsula from local government and law enforcement agencies to family-run businesses and weather updates. Before WYDaily, she covered Hampton and Newport News for WYDaily’s sister publication, HNNDaily before both publications merged in December 2018. Julia was born in Tokyo, Japan and moved to Long Island, New York in 2001. A true New Yorker, she loves pizza, bagels and good Chinese food. Send comments, tips and other tidbits to You can follow her on Twitter at @jmarsigliano

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