Father of boy found dead in New Kensington appears in court for separate case

NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. (KDKA) – It’s been 22 days since the body of 9-year-old Azuree Charles was found in a wooded area behind his New Kensington home. Investigators say it was a homicide.

On Thursday, in an unrelated case, the boy’s father was in court on charges he assaulted the child months before the boy’s death. 

Luella Elien said she was in complete disbelief when investigators told her her son was dead and still can’t come to terms with it.

“He was supposed to grow up. He was supposed to be great. He was supposed to be something special,” she said.

On May 4, the boy’s body was found under a folding chair in woods behind his East Ken Manor home.

“I woke up, he wasn’t in his room. I assumed he ran away, he tried to do it before,” she said. 

But this time was tragically different. Investigators told Elien her boy was not coming home.

“I thought they were like joking. I thought they were playing. I didn’t think they were serious. It’s not until I got home and saw caution tape all over my house, that’s when they told me he was really dead,” she said. 

Elien attended what was to be the preliminary hearing for Jean Charles. The 40-year-old and father to Azuree allegedly punched the boy for being too loud in November of last year. The hearing was waived to court. 

Charles remains held without bond on assault charges. His formal arraignment is July 26.

Officials said they have a person of interest in the 9-year-old’s homicide, but no one has been charged yet.