Mother of 9-year-old boy found murdered in New Kensington speaks out for the first time

PITTSBURGH — The father of Azuree Charles, 9, who was found murdered earlier this month was in court for a preliminary hearing on separate assault charges.

Jean Charles waived his right to a preliminary hearing Thursday.

Charles was charged for allegedly punching his son, Azuree, in the eye in November.

Inside the courtroom, the judge would not consider changing his bail because he said Charles does not have a permanent address and he is worried he may not show up for future hearings.

But the mother of Azuree was at the hearing, and spoke for the first time.

“He leaves, you expect him to come back. You don’t expect that he’s dead.”

It has been three weeks since Luella Elien learned her son, Azuree Charles, was found dead next to their home.

His life was taken by the hands of someone else.

“He was supposed to grow up and he was supposed to be great. He was supposed to be something special,” Elien said.

He was not in his room when she woke up. She thought he had run away, until a neighbor found his body behind his shed.

“I thought they were like joking with me. I thought they were playing, like I didn’t think they were serious. It’s not until I got home and I saw that there was caution tape all over my house,” Elien said.

Charles was in court Thursday for his preliminary hearing for the assault allegations involving Azuree.

His attorney waived his hearing, but Charles refused to come out and face the courtroom.

“He’s a coward. He’s a coward. Just tell the truth. I’m his mother. I deserve to know why. I deserve to know,” Elien said.

No one has been charged in connection with Azuree’s death.

He was an elementary student, his mom said he loved math, he loved to ride his bike and had his whole life ahead of him.

“It’s not anything I’d wish for any mother to ever experience. I’m in shock. I’m still in shock. I’m numb. I am angry. I am upset,” Elien said.

We asked her how she wants people to remember her son — she said: “Remember his smile.”

Luella told us, she was scared of Charles.

He was convicted of assaulting her in 2019 after the two got into an argument over how they disciplined their son, Azuree.

Charles is due back in court in July.