New Jersey

Cause of Death of Boy, 3, Found in South Jersey Woods Remains Unknown

Investigators continue to search for clues in the case of a 3-year-old South Jersey boy found dead in a wooded area near the Cooper River Tuesday after an autopsy yielded no results.

An autopsy on Brendan Link Creato was inconclusive, and X-rays revealed no broken bones. The Camden County Prosecutor’s Office said the pending autopsy with no cause or manner of death would hinder but not halt the investigation.

A family member reported the tot missing around 6 a.m. from a small apartment building in Haddon Township, according to Andy McNeil, spokesman with the prosecutor's office. A police dog found Brendan's body three hours late in Cooper River Park, about a half-mile from his home.

Sources close to the investigation told NBC10 Brendan didn't walk into the woods alone and his body was "definitely placed there."

Police spoke to Brendan's inconsolable father Tuesday and later released him from custody.

NBC10 obtained 911 tapes of DJ Creato, Brendan's father, talking to dispatchers about the disappearance.

After giving information to the dispatcher, Creato says he has no idea how Brendan got out considering the door was double locked.

Toward the end of the call a woman can be heard calling, "Brendan," multiple times.

Karri Anthony, a friend of his mother's family, said Brendan had been staying at his father's house when he died. His mother lives elsewhere, she said.

The mother, Samantha Denoto, addressed her son's death in a statement Tuesday evening.

"We are heartbroken by the loss of our beautiful boy Brendan Creato," she said. "Along with the Creato family, who also lost a son and grandson, we are grieving and tremendously saddened."

She thanked the people who searched for Brendan and those who gathered at a vigil in his memory. About 100 people attended, praying and singing.

The road from Brendan's home to the park runs through a suburban neighborhood with big lots and large homes. The park itself is full of dangers, including stairs to a small concrete landing that drops off into a branch of the Cooper River.

By midday, the park was no longer considered a crime scene, though the area around the boy's home was still cordoned off.

After Brendan was reported missing, police notified nearby residents using a reverse 911 call that described him as wearing pajamas.

NBC10 has yet to speak with Brendan's parents.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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