It has been four months since Pennsylvania police found a 9-year-old boy strangled behind his home. His parents have since been charged in connection with his death.
On May 4, Azuree Charles of New Kensington was found naked and muddy. The child’s body had been partially covered with lawn furniture and a foam cooler, the arrest report reads. His pajamas were hanging in nearby branches.
Jean Charles, 40, the victim’s father have been charged with murder, Westmoreland County District Attorney Nicole Ziccarelli confirmed at a press conference on Wednesday.
“This horrific tragedy has rocked the New Kensington community,” Ziccarelli said, adding, “The trauma that has affected us all pales in comparison to what Azuree no doubt experienced.”
Charles also faces charges of criminal homicide, abuse of a corpse, unlawful restraint of a minor by a parent, strangulation, concealing the death of a child, and tampering with physical evidence, court records show.
Azuree’s mother, Luella Elien, has also been charged with aggravated assault of a victim less than 13 years old, child endangerment, and hindering the apprehension or prosecution of another person, PEOPLE reported.
Charles is being held in the Westmoreland County Prison on no bond. Elien is being held on a $250,000 bond.
Both are scheduled to have preliminary hearings on Oct. 12.
In May, Azuree’s neighbors said he had just beaten pediatric cancer. Neighbor Osie Taylor found Azuree’s body and said, “All he does is ride his bike and play with his sister, and for something like this to happen to him, it’s unbelievable.”
According to the criminal complaint, a boy who lives near the victim’s home heard Azuree yell, “No, no, no, I’m sorry,” around 2:30 a.m. on May 4, the day his body was discovered.
In May, community members gathered at a vigil to honor Azuree’s life.
“He was the nicest person I ever met. We like to ride our bikes, and we would always play,” 9-year-old Azalynn Lookhart told the station.