Community commemorates boy found dead in car driven by his mother

Community commemorates boy found dead in car driven by his mother

A serendipitous memorial grows to a 6-year-old boy who may have been murdered by his mother.

The family confirmed to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that Eli Hart was the boy police found after 28-year-old Julissa Thaler was arrested in Mound on Friday.

Photo of 6-year-old Eli Hart provided by family members.

Sunday, during a planned 5K run of The Grief Club of Minnesotaorganizers did what they do best: help people cope with tragedy.

The run was held at Back Channel Brewing, not far from where Hart was found. There, people could write a message to the boy and tie him to a fence with a flower.

One message read: “Fly high sweet boy! I will miss your radiant smile forever.” Another simply read, “Keep smiling.”

(KSTP/Ben Henry)
(KSTP/Ben Henry)
(KSTP/Ben Henry)

“I think of parents who are children who are grieving, we often wonder what to do to comfort them, support them [and] the biggest piece we share with people is to be honest and simple,” said Sarah Kroenke, executive director and co-founder of The Grief Club of Minnesota.

“Love them, that’s what they need now more than anything, to know that they are cared for and loved and that there are people who care about them,” she added.

One family that left a few messages for Hart was the Butkowskis – their daughter Piper was a classmate of Eli’s. They saw that the two were best friends.

“It’s been a rough few days since we heard about it,” Kyle Butkowski said. “You don’t always know what to say to a young man. You try your best, try to fill in the blanks if they have any questions, but [we’re just] there and support them.”

RELATED: Family Remembers Boy Found Dead in Mound, ‘Eli Was the Sweetest Boy’

Eli’s family, including family spokesperson Josie Josephson, are still struggling to realize this is real but are very grateful for the support they have received.

“There has been such an outpouring of support for us, more than we could have ever imagined,” Josephson said on the phone Sunday with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

“Eli was so special to us. We’ve felt for a long time that we were so alone in this battle for him and we can’t thank everyone enough.”

Josephson said there had been a long dispute over Eli’s custody.

Thaler remains in custody in Hennepin County, but has yet to be formally charged. Police say a second suspect, a man, has been arrested in connection with Eli’s death.