With 3-year-old’s death a mystery, friends defend Brendan Creato’s dad
It's not clear whether DJ Creato is considered a suspect in 3-year-old son Brendan Link Creato's death. It's not even clear if authorities suspect foul play.
But at a vigil Tuesday night for the boy — found dead in a wooded area of Haddon Township that morning after being reported missing from a residence on the 100 block of Cooper Street by a family member at about 6 a.m. — friends leaped to DJ Creato's defense.
Runnemede resident Bernadette Ferraro said authorities wouldn't allow DJ Creato to return to his parents' home, where the boy had been staying the night he went missing, CourierPostOnline.com reports. She and other friends said he'd been questioned by police.
"They are looking at his father, but a stranger did this," she called out to the crowd, according to the report.
6abc quoted family friend Donna Duca saying of DJ Creato: "No matter what happened in their family life with the relationship with his wife, his work issues, when he saw Brendan, all that fell away and all he knew was this was the most important thing in his life."
No one has been charged in Brendan Creato's death, and authorities haven't yet said how they believe he died. The Camden County Prosecutor's Office said yesterday the results of an autopsy are pending and the investigation is still continuing.
By mid-day, police had cleared away from the area where Brendan was found, though a heavy police presence remained at the residence.
The boy's grandfather, David Creato Sr. of Westmont, said his family is puzzled by the death, according to the Courier Post.
"It just doesn't make sense," he said before a vigil that drew hundreds outside Holy Saviour Church in Westmont. "We have no answers."
After Brendan was reported missing at 6 a.m., members of the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, Haddon Township Police Department and other police, fire and public safety agencies responded and began to conduct a thorough search for the boy, the Camden County Prosecutor's Office has said.
A K-9 unit from the Delaware River Port Authority Police Department tracked the child to a wooded area off South Park Drive in Haddon Township, where he was found deceased shortly before 9 a.m., it said.
Authorities are asking anyone with information to contact Camden County Prosecutor’s Office Detective Michael Rhoads at 856-225-8561 or Haddon Township Police Detective Don Quinn at 856-833-6208.
Throughout the township Tuesday night, candles burned in windows and at makeshift memorials displaying pictures of Brendan and signs remembering the young boy. Supporters carrying candles made their way to the church as the vigil began. Following a prayer, the crowd walked to the residence where the toddler was last seen. Teens and young children dropped off colored pictures, stuffed animals, candles and a sign outside the residence.
Jaqueline Trump, one of the community members in attendance, said things like this “just don’t happen” in Hadden Township.
“This doesn’t happen here. It doesn’t,” she said. “It’s not the type of neighborhood where we feel like you have to lock your door. Now apparently you do.”
Brendan's mother, Samantha Denoto issued a statement Tuesday night on behalf of her family, expressing her grief and asking for privacy as the family mourns.
“We are heartbroken by the loss of our beautiful boy Brendan Creato,” Denoto said. “Along with the Creato family, who also lost a son and grandson, we are grieving and tremendously saddened.”
She continued: “We thank the community, which searched this morning for Brendan and gathered tonight in his memory. We appreciate your efforts and kind words,” Denoto said Tuesday. “We do not have any answers about what occurred.”
— Dino Flammia and Toniann Antonelli contributed to this report