RANDOLPH, Minn. (WCCO) – Nearly 100 people honored the life and legacy of six-year-old Eli Hart in the town where he spent nearly one year of his life in a foster home.
Friends and family filled the bleachers at Randolph Football Field as Hart's father's fiancée, Josie Josephson, thanked the group for their support.
On May 20, Orono Police say they found Hart dead in the trunk of a car his mother was stopped in. Search warrant documents filed in Hennepin County show Hart's mother, Julissa Thaler, had blood on her clothes, hands and face. Bullet casings, holes, flesh and blood filled the car's interior. Police have not commented publicly on their investigation since May 20, while Thaler remains in Hennepin County Jail on murder charges.
The day following Hart's death, Josephson navigated WCCO through nearly a year's worth of paperwork detailing a custody battle between Thaler, herself and Eli's father, Tory Hart.
In Randolph on Saturday, Josephson said the focus was on beginning the healing process for their family.
"This has been such a tragic event in our life, and it's such a tragic way, but all we can do is start to heal," she said. "Eli was an amazing 6-year-old boy. Who was so inquisitive, always wanted to explore and loved his dad immensely."
Hart's teachers from Shirley Hills Elementary School in Mound also addressed the crowd.
"The joy we saw on his face when he played could light up the whole room," said Bobbie Jo Tronsgard. "His classmates are confused as to why he's not at school. We know we were all cheated out of loving him for many years to come."
The event marked the second public memorial event for Eli Hart in two days.
Julissa Thaler is scheduled to appear for a bail hearing in late June.
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