The father of a 3-year-old boy found dead in a park last year killed the boy in an attempt to please his teenage girlfriend who didn’t like children, prosecutors allege.
David Creato Jr. (DJ), 22, faces murder and child endangerment charges 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.
At his first court hearing, prosecutors said DJ Creato visited dozens of times the area where his son’s body was found, even taking a selfie there with his girlfriend just two days before Brendan’s death. Prosecutors called the area tough terrain that’s muddy and down an uneven rocky road. Despite the conditions, Brendan’s socks were clean; making it unlikely he walked to the river.
Brendan had signs of a bruise near his collarbone that led investigators to rule he died by “homicidal violence” by means of exclusion, including possible asphyxia and ligature or manual strangulation, prosecutors said.
Creato acted in a rage of jealousy, according to the prosecution. Phone records also showed he lied to investigators about his bedtime the night before Brendan went missing – texting past the time he said.
Prosecutors said Creato’s lover told him the weekend before the boy’s death that she planned to break things off since Creato had his son every other weekend and remained in touch with the boy’s mother.
Creato pleaded not guilty. A judge set bail at $750,000.
Creato’s attorney, Richard Fuschino Jr. called the case against his client circumstantial and weak, at best. He said there is little evidence and no witnesses to the crime.
David Creato admitted to police that he was jealous and suspicious of his girlfriend in the hours leading up to Brendan’s death, said investigators.
David Creato was arrested in Washington Township, Camden County prosecutors said.
Samantha Denoto, Brendan’s mother, sat stone-like through most of the hearing as Assistant Prosecutor Christine Shah related alleged details of her son’s murder, but flinched when the prosecutor told the judge Creato and Spensky were still romantically involved.
Shah told the judge the continuing relationship made Creato a flight risk, because Spensky has “significant out of state contacts,” and asked Creato’s bail remain at $1 million. Shah did not name Spensky in court, citing her status as a juvenile, but Creato’s girlfriend was previously named in the press. After her Tumblr posts gained the media’s attention, Fuschino identified her to reporters.
Fuschino disregarded Shah’s claim that Creato’s ongoing relationship with the teen would make him more likely to skip bail.
Long before authorities announced a suspect, the Denoto and Creato families closed ranks, and friends started separate online fundraisers.