CAMDEN - Camden County prosecutors say David Creato Jr. killed his 3-year-old son because the child had become an impediment to his relationship with a teenage girlfriend.
Creato, 22, was arraigned Tuesday on murder and child endangerment charges.
Brendan Creato was reported missing from his home by his father on the morning of Oct. 13. David Creato told a 911 operator that he woke up around 6 a.m. and discovered the boy was gone. After a large-scale search, Brendan’s body was found three hours later about a half-mile away in a wooded area.
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Prosecutors said Tuesday that there were indications the boy was deprived of oxygen, had some bruising and suffered “homicidal violence" akin to smothering or strangulation.
Investigators noted that Brendan’s socks were clean, therefore it was unlikely he walked to the location where his body was found.
Prosecutors say that Creato's girlfriend resented his dealings with Brendan’s mother, with whom he shared custody. Investigators found hundreds of text messages that seem to show arguments between him and the teen.
Investigators say that just hours before the alleged incident Creato hacked his girlfriend’s Snapchat account and found messages between her and another man.
Officials say the girlfriend was in New York when Brendan was killed. They alleged that Creato spent four hours looking through the girl’s social media accounts, presumably after killing the boy, before calling 911 to report him missing.
Creato's attorney, Richard Fuschino Jr., says the prosecution's case is "weak" and has said he will "vigorously" defend his client.
Creato has no prior criminal record. His bail was set at $750,000 and he cannot leave the state if he posts bail.
The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.