A Minnesota woman was arrested on suspicion of murder after she allegedly drove around with her 6-year-old son dead in a car trunk. Police did not initially identify the defendant, but Julissa Thaler, 28, was booked into the Hennepin County Jail on Saturday.
Family reportedly identified the child as Eli Hart, 6.
Police in the city of Orono said they they pulled over a silver car Friday morning after getting a 911 call about a vehicle driving on a tire rim with the back window smashed out, according to KMSP.
Officers during the traffic stop noticed noticed blood inside the vehicle, Orono Police Chief Corry Farniok said, according to KTSP.
“We believe the driver of the vehicle, the female, is the prime suspect we’re investigating at this time,” he said. “We believe she’s involved.”
The boy’s father Tory Hart was in a custody fight over the son, according to KMSP. The mother faced drug addiction and mental health challenges, said the father’s fiancée Josie Josephson. But the mother was awarded full custody despite their complaints.
“No matter how many cries we cried, they ignored us,” she said. “No matter how many warning signs there were.”
Authorities also arrested a second suspect. Charges are pending. Josephson said she and Tory did not know who this person could be.
Eli Hart attended kindergarten at Shirley Hills Primary School.
Westonka Schools confirms the boy found dead in the trunk of a car on Friday was a kindergarten student at Shirley Hills Primary School. pic.twitter.com/xU3F6FcjaE
— Mary McGuire (@mcguirereports) May 21, 2022
“It is horrifying and difficult to process a tragedy of this magnitude , especially in our close-knit community,” Westonka Schools Superintendent Kevin Borg. “My thoughts and prayers go out to all those who are grieving this profound loss.”
Documents from Dakota County court detail concerns social workers had about Thaler’s mental health, criminal history and living situation.
— Adam Duxter (@AdamDuxter) May 22, 2022
“Eli was the sweetest kid,” Josephson said, according to KTSP. “Very kind. Anyone who knew Eli just fell in love with him. He was always happy, full of energy, full of questions, very inquisitive. He loved to play with matchbox cars. Recently, he learned how to fish.”
A GoFundMe campaign to pay for the funeral raised $32,896.
Family members have identified 6-year-old Eli Hart as the boy found dead in a car trunk near Orono Friday.
Hart is pictured here with his father, Tory Hart and Hart’s fiancée Josie Josephson.
— Adam Duxter (@AdamDuxter) May 21, 2022
[Screenshot via KMSP]
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