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2 Arrested After Boy's Body Found In Trunk; Victim Identified As Eli Hart

MOUND, Minn. (WCCO) - Police say they found a boy's body in the trunk of a vehicle during a traffic stop in Mound on Friday morning, and two people are in custody.

On Saturday, family members identified the victim as 6-year-old Eli Hart. Additionally, the superintendent for Westonka Public Schools said the victim is believed to be a kindergarten student at Shirley Hills Primary School.

Police say that the boy's death is being investigated as a domestic incident. Court records show the boy's mother, Julissa Thaler, was recently awarded full custody of Hart. Thaler was arrested Friday in Orono and is currently in custody on suspicion of murder.

Documents from Dakota County court detail concerns social workers had about Thaler's mental health, criminal history and living situation. Still, she was granted full parental custody of Hart earlier this month, and the case was dismissed.

According to the Orono Police Department, officers were called around 7 a.m. Friday to a suspicious vehicle, which was driving on its rim with its back window smashed out.

After performing a traffic stop at Shoreline Drive and Bartlett Boulevard, police spoke to the woman who was driving the car and noticed blood inside the vehicle.

Then, they found a body in the trunk.

Police say they took the woman into custody. One other person was arrested at an apartment complex. The names of the two arrested have yet to be released.

"It sort of shocks you, and our hearts go out to the victim in this as well as the officers, first responders," said Orono Police Chief Correy Farniok. He said officials are hoping to identify the victim Friday evening.

Hear from Orono Police Chief Correy Farniok:

Multiple scenes, including a Shell gas station about two miles away from the site of the arrest, are being processed. Officials do not believe there is a risk to the public at this time.

The two suspects are expected to be charged in Hennepin County in the next few days.

Westonka Public Schools say the district's crisis support team will be on-site at the school on Monday. Superintendent Kevin Borg says information about the boy's death will not be shared in school, to allow parents to use their discretion in discussing the tragedy with their children.

"It is horrifying and difficult to process a tragedy of this magnitude, especially in our close-knit community," Borg said. "My thoughts and prayers go out to all those who are grieving this profound loss."

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