A 28-year-old woman has been arrested after police found her six-year-old son’s body in the boot of her bloodied car, authorities and family members say.
The mum, who has been named by local publications as Julissa Thaler, and a man were arrested after police in Mound, Minnesota, were alerted to a suspicious car with a blown out tyre and smashed rear window on Friday morning.
Officers stopped the vehicle and noticed blood inside while speaking with the woman behind the wheel, WCCO reports.
Police searched the car and found the body of Eli Hart, a kindergartener, in the boot.
Court records show Thaler was arrested on pending murder charges. The 27-year-old man who was also taken into police custody has not been identified. As of Sunday, neither had been formally charged.
Police have not yet released details about the circumstances of Eli’s death.
"This was an isolated incident," Orono Police Chief Correy Farniok said, KARE11 reports.
"We believe, or we know, that the suspects that were involved in this case are in custody. And, we are working through the investigation to determine what involvement each of them had."
Boy at centre of bitter custody battle
Local publications claim court documents reveal Eli has been in the centre of an ongoing custody battle between Thaler and his biological dad Tory Hart for two years.
Mr Hart had been trying to win custody of the six-year-old at the time of his death, family members said.
In January last year, Eli was placed into a foster care over concerns for his mum’s mental health, WCCO reports.
Thaler was awarded full custody of her son two weeks before her arrest.
The boy’s behaviour changed after his mother regained custody and family members said he had been misbehaving in school and showing signs of anxiety.
Nikita Kronberg, who was the boy’s foster mother for 11 months, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that Dakota County social workers “failed this child big-time”. The social worker in charge of the case didn’t immediately respond to messages from the newspaper.
"No matter how many cries we cried, they ignored us. No matter how many warning signs there were," Josie Josephson, the fiancee of Eli’s dad, told FOX 9.
“Not only did we express concerns to multiple people, multiple times…every time the response was, ‘This is something for family courts.’ [Child Protective Services] said laws do not allow us to address this, unless [they] see physical abuse, [they] have no grounds to remove him from her home."
Ms Josephson said Eli was a patient and happy child who wanted to become a firefighter.
He suffered from a rare genetic disorder that caused kidney disease and hearing problems that required hearing aids.
The investigation into the six-year-old’s death is ongoing and his family have created a GoFundMe to help pay for the kindergartener’s funeral.
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