The parents of a 9-year-old Pennsylvania boy found naked, strangled and partially buried behind his home this spring are now charged in connection to his slaying, prosecutors announced this week.
Azuree Charles, found dead naked and muddy behind his New Kensington home May 4, died from mechanical strangulation Westmoreland County District Attorney Nicole Ziccarelli, said during a press conference Wednesday.
“This horrific tragedy has rocked the New Kensington community,” Ziccarelli told reporters inside the Westmoreland County courthouse in Greensburg, about 30 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. “The trauma that has affected us all pales in comparison to what Azuree no doubt experienced.”
Ziccarelli did not release additional details about the case citing an open investigation.
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According to an arrest report obtained by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the boy’s body was found naked and muddy, partially covered by lawn furniture and a foam cooler. The boy’s pajamas were hanging in nearby branches, according to the report.
On Wednesday, the boy’s 40-year-old father, Jean Charles was charged with homicide, abuse of a corpse, concealing the death of a child and other crimes in connection to Azuree’s death, Ziccarelli said.
Although it’s not immediately known what role she may have played in the boy’s death, the child’s mother, 29-year-old Luella Elien, was charged with aggravated assault and endangering children in connection to the case.
Azuree’s neighbors told CBS News back in May that the child had just beaten pediatric cancer. Neighbor Osie Taylor, who found Azuree’s body, told the outlet, “All he does is ride his bike and play with his sister and for something like this to happen to him, it’s unbelievable.”
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Records show Charles was being held in the Westmoreland County Prison without bond on Saturday and the boy’s mother was being held on $250,000 bond.
It was not immediately known if either defendant had obtained an attorney.
The boy’s parents are slated to appear in court for respective preliminary hearings Oct. 12.
Natalie Neysa Alund covers trending news for USA TODAY. Reach her at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @nataliealund.