CAMDEN, N.J. — The father of a 3-year-old boy found dead in a park last year has been charged with his murder, prosecutors announced Monday.
David Creato Jr., 22, also faces a child endangerment charge in the death of his son, Brendan. The child’s body was found Oct. 13 in Cooper River Park about three hours after Creato reported him missing from his Haddon Township home.
When Creato called 911, he said he had woken up around 6 a.m. and soon realized the boy was gone.
“I don’t know if he wandered out or what happened,” Creato told the operator. “I don’t know where he is. The door was locked. I guess he unlocked it and left.”
The 911 call prompted a townwide search until the boy’s body was found.
Creato was arrested Monday in Washington Township, Camden County prosecutors said. He’s due to be arraigned Tuesday, and his bail has not yet been set.
Prosecutors declined to comment further on the charges, the investigation or what led them to consider as a Creato a suspect, citing court rules that they say prevent them from making statements outside of the courtroom that might prejudice the defendant’s right to a fair trial.
Authorities have said that the boy’s autopsy results were inconclusive and that a cause of death could not be determined.
Creato’s attorney, Richard Fuschino Jr., told The Philadelphia Inquirer that he would “vigorously defend this case.”
Fuschino claimed that authorities pointed to Creato because pressure was mounting from the public to identify a suspect, and because there were no other obvious clues in the case. He said he worried that the indictment “is the result of just not having any other answers.”
In the days after the body was found, Fuschino had said investigators told him his client was not a suspect. He also said Creato spoke to investigators without a lawyer present and had been told police had no suspects.
The indictment accuses Creato of purposely or knowingly causing the child’s death or causing serious bodily injury that caused the death, but it did not provide further details on those allegations.
Brendan’s father and his mother, Samantha Denoto, do not live together. She has not spoken publicly about her son’s death since a vigil held the day the child’s body was found.