Monday, September 26, 2022

Jean Charles Arrested for Murdering 9-Year-Old Son, Azuree: 5 Quick Facts

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Jean Charles, of Brackenridge, Pennsylvania, has now been arrested and charged with murder in the death of his 9-year-old son, Azuree Charles. Azuree Charles was found dead on May 5, 2022, police said. Jean Charles was arrested on September 21, 2022 and was denied bail in the case. According to court documents, Azuree’s mother, Luella Elien, was also charged in a case related to an incident in November 2021.

Charles faces charges of criminal manslaughter, first-degree murder, molesting a corpse, unlawfully restraining a minor by a parent, strangulation, covering up the death of a child and tampering with physical evidence, according to the filing filed in his case . Charles, 40, was arrested by the New Kensington Police Department in Westmoreland County and indicted on his charges before District Judge Frank J. Pallone Jr., who refused bail in his case on the murder charge, court documents show. He is being held at the Westmoreland County Jail.

Elien, 29, of New Kensington, has been charged with aggravated assault of a person under the age of 18, endangering the well-being of children and obstructing arrest or prosecution in an alleged incident on November 16, 2021, months before the boy’s death, according to court records . Her bail is set at $50,000.

An attorney is not listed for Charles, but court documents show he did not request a public defender. His preliminary hearing is tentatively scheduled for October 12, 2022 at 11:00 a.m.

Here’s what you need to know:

Jean Charles was arrested on May 5 on child molestation charges filed by the New Kensington Police Department in December, his filing list shows. Court documents say that “no combination of conditions will ensure the defendant’s appearance at his preliminary hearing,” citing homelessness as the reason.

Charles is charged in this case with aggravated assault and endangerment of child welfare in an alleged incident on November 16, 2021. Charles asked a public defender to represent him, his court documents said.

According to a criminal complaint filed in the child molestation case reviewed by Trib Live, a case worker with the Westmoreland County Children’s Bureau told a New Kensington Police Department detective that she saw the child victim with discoloration and bruising on the eye. The complaint did not name the victim but described him as a 9-year-old boy. According to family friends, Azuree Charles had younger sisters. The boy told police “my father punched me in the eye,” Trib Live reported, citing court documents.

“The boy said his father Charles punched him in the eye for making noise in his bedroom. The boy had a bruise under his eye in the morning and told his mother,” Trib Live reported.

Charles faced a previous charge of minor assault and a series of charges related to driving without a license and driving without insurance in 2019, his court filings show.

Charles pleaded guilty in 2020 to the 2019 charge of simple assault and was sentenced to a maximum of two years’ probation, according to court documents.

The Post-Gazette reported that police found DNA from Jean Charles on a shovel found in a garbage can and on clothing matching the description of clothing seen on surveillance footage showing a man with a shovel .

Members of the New Kensington Community, including Azuree’s young friends, gathered for a vigil to honor the 9-year-old boy’s short life shortly after his body was found. Many of the elementary school students shared their memories of playing with Azuree outside with WTAE.

“He was the nicest person I’ve ever met. We like to ride bikes and would always play,” 9-year-old Azalynn Lookhart told WTAE.

Michele Arce, another community member, told WTAE that explaining death to young children is heartbreaking.

“When you have kids, it’s just heartbreak,” Arce told WTAE. “Then having to wait for our kids to get off the bus home and have to see all the warning tape and explain what happened is heartbreaking.”

Brittany Bush, who organized the event, told WTAE that she wants to see justice done. Bush told the news agency she organized the event because the community and their children needed to come together to grieve so they could process the tragedy.

“We just had to do this for these kids out here. It’s sad, at a moment like this, everyone needs to come together,” Bush told the news channel. “I want justice for him, whoever did this I hope they get whatever comes to them.”

Osie Taylor, a 70-year-old neighbor, found the boy’s body after he failed to show up at the bus stop, according to the WPXI. The body was found under a lounge chair in a wooded area near Azuree’s home.

“I knew something was wrong because my lawn chair was out of place,” Taylor told the Tribune-Review.

Taylor told the outlet that when the boy was reported missing, he offered to help police locate him because he knew the areas where the neighborhood kids often played.

Westmoreland County District Attorney Nicole Ziccarelli said in a news conference at the time of the murder that investigators were determined to bring justice to the case.

“For our community at large, keep your kids close,” she said. “They are our most precious gifts. We will not rest until we determine what or who caused this child’s death.”

Neighbors told local news outlets that Azuree was a childhood cancer survivor. WPXI reported last year that Azuree “beats cancer”. Neighbor Osie Taylor told Trib Live he didn’t know the details of the boy’s illness but did know he had been ill and had to endure a lot of surgeries.

KDKA reported that Azuree “enjoyed a second chance at life.”

“He just rides his bike and plays with his sister and it’s incredible that something like this could happen to him. It has to stop whatever’s going on,” Taylor told KDKA.

Azuree’s death has left his neighbors in grief and shock, they told local news outlets. Neighbor Gina Pace told WPXI she often saw the boy play outside.

“You never thought he was playing so happily out here, you never knew that little boy was lying up there fighting for his life to come back so full of life,” Pace told WPXI.

Pace told Trib Live Azuree is handsome and smart.

“This is a serious tragedy and it hits our homeland,” Pace told the newspaper. “We know this boy. He was in a very good mood. He was a handsome, smart little fellow.”

Brittney Sneed, another neighbor and mother of three, told Trib Live she was concerned for her children’s safety ahead of the arrest.

“We don’t know what happened,” she told the newspaper at the time. “We have children; I dont know what to think.”

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