The father of a 3-year-old South Jersey boy who was found dead in the woods near the Cooper River three months ago has been indicted for murder.
DJ Creato, 22, was picked up Monday afternoon from his job in Washington Township. He was indicted by a grand jury on a charge of first-degree murder and second-degree endangering the welfare of a child in connection with the death of his son, Brendan, the Camden County Prosecutor's Office announced Monday.
Brendan was found dead the morning of Oct. 13 near the bank of the Cooper River in Haddon Township, about a half-mile from his father’s home. The toddler's body was discovered about three hours after Creato called 911 to report his son was missing, authorities said.
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"Hi, I just woke up and my 3-year-old is missing," Creato said in a 911 call obtained by NBC10.
"You didn't hear anything or see anything?" the operator asked.
"No, I just woke up and he wasnt in my apartment," Creato replied. "I don't know if he wandered out or what happened. I don't know where he is. The door was locked. I guess he unlocked it and left."
Toward the end of the 911 call, a woman can be heard yelling "Brendan" several times.
Less than a month after the boy's death, Creato's lawyer, Richard Fuschino Jr., told NBC10 that toxicology tests on Brendan’s body had come back negative.
Officials also said there was no indication the boy was sexually assaulted and no indication of forced entry at Creato's home. They continued to investigate the child's cause of death.
In November, Philadelphia defense attorney Bill Brennan confirmed to NBC10 he was representing Brendan’s aunt and Creato’s sister, Sarah Jessica Creato, along with her parents. Brennan neither confirmed nor denied that his client was subpoenaed by a grand jury at the time.
"Grand jury proceedings are secret and it’s my practice, if there was a grand jury investigation, not to comment," he said.
While officials announced Creato's arrest Monday, they have not yet revealed Brendan's cause of death or a possible motive.
NBC10 was there as Creato was taken to Haddon Township Police headquarters in handcuffs Monday afternoon for processing. He is scheduled for an arraignment Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. in Camden.
NBC10 reached out to Fuschino Jr. for comment after Creato's arrest.
"I was shocked at what happened today," he said. "I had no warning that he was going to be charged today and it's heartbreaking. We don't know what actually caused the death here. We know my client is accused but we don't know what he's accused of having done."