Azuree Charles: Boy was heard saying 'I'm sorry' before dad strangled him and buried body under lawn chair
NEW KENSINGTON, PENNSYLVANIA: Community members in New Kensington were left devastated after the parents of a 9-year-old boy were arrested on Wednesday, September 21. Jean Charles, 40, was arrested by the police in connection to the murder of his son, Azuree Charles, four months after the incident took place. Jean is charged with first-degree murder, abuse of a corpse, unlawful restraint of a minor by a parent, and criminal homicide. The boy's mother, Luella Elien was also detained by the police and charged in connection with a separate incident involving the boy. She is charged with aggravated assault and child endangerment.
Jean allegedly choked his son, pulled his body over an embankment, and then tried to hide it under a lawn chair and cooler behind a neighbor’s shed. According to The Tribune Live, a shovel was also used during the crime. Elien was accused of giving her husband access to their son despite knowing the fact that Jean abused Azuree between November and May 1. She even allowed him to stay in her home despite having an active arrest warrant on his name for punching his son in the eye in November.
Police found the slain boy partially buried under a lawn chair with his pajamas hanging from a nearby tree branch. His bike and a shovel were also found close to his body. The bike reportedly had his DNA on them. According to the court papers, a young neighbor reportedly heard Azuree scream, "No, no, no, I’m sorry,” before his body was discovered by a resident. The 9-year-old was also a cancer survivor and had a tracheostomy tube removed which helped him to eat and talk, shortly before the murder.
On Thursday, September 22, Azuree's friends and neighbors celebrated his justice by releasing dozens of balloons in his memory. "He never bothered anybody. He rode his bike. He loved riding his bike. And he loved playing with his sisters," said Osie Taylor, a neighbor, according to CBS News. "How can you do that to your own kid?" Taylor said. Tasha Williams, a community activist in New Kensington, said "That is horrible. We are going to fight as a community to get justice".
Authorities said that the investigation is still active and urged anyone with information to come forward. "Anybody involved, anybody that knows anything – if you haven't spoken up, you need to speak up. Even if you think it's not important, it may be important. You might put that one piece to a puzzle that they might be missing," Williams said.
Anyone with additional information pertaining to the open case is urged to contact the New Kensington Police Department by calling 724-339-7533. If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.