Parents arrested in death of 9-year-old who had just survived cancer, PA cops say




  • In US
  • 2022-09-22 14:36:20Z
  • By Miami Herald
 

The parents of Azuree Charles, a 9-year-old boy who authorities say was killed in May, have been charged in his death, according to a Pennsylvania district attorney.

Azuree, found dead behind his New Kensington home on May 4, was ruled to have died from mechanical strangulation, Westmoreland County District Attorney Nicole Ziccarelli said in a news briefing on Wednesday, Sept. 21.

His father, Jean Charles, faces charges of murder, 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, the district attorney said. He had previously been in jail on assault and child endangerment charges that dated back to a November incident, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.

Luella Elien, Azuree's mother, was charged Wednesday with aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of children and hindering apprehension or prosecution of another person, Ziccarelli said. It's unclear what role she may have played in the boy's death.

"This horrific tragedy has rocked the New Kensington community, it has rocked our office, the New Kensington Police Department and our county as a whole," Ziccarelli said while announcing the charges. "The trauma that has affected us all, however, pales in comparison to what Azuree no doubt experienced."

Azuree was found behind the shed of his home, "lying underneath lawn furniture, mud and dirt," WTAE reported. Jean Charles was allegedly seen that morning carrying a shovel and pushing the boy's bike, according to the Pittsburgh TV station.

A boy who lives near the home told police he woke up early in the morning on May 4 and heard Azuree yell, "NO NO NO, I'M SORRY," according to the Tribune-Review.

Neighbors of the family said Azuree was a recent cancer survivor, according to KDKA. Ziccarelli previously said he had three younger siblings.

"All he does is ride his bike and play with his sister and for something like this to happen to him, it's unbelievable. It's got to stop, whatever is going on," said Osie Taylor, who KDKA reported found the boy's body.

The parents are in custody, the district attorney said Wednesday.

New Kensington is about 20 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

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