NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. — County investigators released major developments in the homicide case of Azuree Charles, 9, of New Kensington.
On Wednesday, detectives charged both parents criminally.
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Azuree’s father, Jean Charles, was charged with first-degree murder, abuse of a corpse and strangulation.
Police said Azuree died of mechanical strangulation.
Channel 11 was there as the mother of Azuree Charles was walked out in handcuffs Wednesday. Luella Elien was charged by detectives with aggravated assault of a child and endangering the welfare of a child. Police said she allowed Jean Charles to continue watching her four children despite known allegations of child abuse.
Channel 11 spoke to her two weeks ago, when she was pleading for justice in her son’s case.
”I’m feeling left in the dark. I have reached out a couple times and they’re doing the best they can, but I just want answers,” Elien said.
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Azuree was found strangled to death in New Kensington in early May.
“Every time you think about it, you just want to cry,” said Zariyah, a friend of Azuree.
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Police said they have surveillance video showing Azuree in the area the night of the murder.
They found the clothes he was seen wearing and a shovel not far where his red bike was found, with all DNA evidence matching his.
Hours after charges were filed against Azuree’s parents, the children in the neighborhood got to work, making signs for their beloved friend and playmate.
“It’s about justice being served for Azuree,” said Aleese, Azuree’s friend. “And just celebrating his life and how many hearts he has touched.”
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Police said Azuree’s body was found partially buried, his pajamas hanging in branches nearby, and a cooler and lawn chair over the top of his body.
Neighbor Osie Taylor originally found Azuree’s body.
“I never thought the mother would be involved. When I heard that today, it hurt me,” Taylor said.
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“This horrific tragedy has rocked the New Kensington community. It has rocked our office, the New Kensington police department and our county as whole. The trauma that has affected us all, however, pales in comparison to what Azuree no doubt experienced,” district attorney Nicole Ziccarelli said.
“I just want to know why? Why a child?” neighbor Bill Olbeter said. “Why your own child? It’s not right.”
Court papers said a young neighbor heard a scared Azuree scream “No, no, no, I’m sorry” just hours before his body was discovered.
Children in the neighborhood told Channel 11 they often heard yelling from the home.
“They finally caught them both, so that’s good,” Zariyah said. “So nothing else can happen to anyone else’s kids.”
Both parents are in the county jail.
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