HADDON TWP., N.J. --The father of a three-year-old boy who vanished last fall, only to be found dead hours later, has been arrested.
David Creato, Jr., 22, was indicted by a grand jury with first-degree murder and second-degree endangering the welfare of a child in the death of 3-year-old Brendan Creato, according to the Camden County Prosecutor's office.
Creato, also known as D.J., was arrested on Monday afternoon.
"D.J. is gonna plead not guilty tomorrow. D.J. did not commit this crime," Creato's lawyer Richard Fuschino told Action News Monday night.
The attorney says he will vigorously defend his client.
He says he is anxious to hear what the prosecutor has or thinks she has tying Creato to the murder of his own son.
"It's not a shock so much as a disappointment. D.J. lost his son and now to be accused of being the killer, I think it's as bad as it gets," Fuschino said.
Brendan vanished from his father's home in the pre-dawn hours of October 13th on the 100 block of Cooper Street in Haddon Township. He was later found dead in a wooded section of nearby Cooper River Park.
Initially the medical examiners ruled the cause and manner of death inconclusive.
What led to the grand jury indictment and subsequent charges has not been disclosed.
Neighbors are shocked and dismayed with the outcome and are wondering if Creato killed his own son, why would he do it?
"That's the whole question everyone is wondering. Why? I don't know," Joe Murray of Haddon Township said.
"I'm just praying it's wrong, we're all praying it's wrong," Carol D'Angelo of Haddon Township said.
Friends of the Creato family were finding it hard to believe that David Creato has been charged with his son's murder.
"It's really hard to believe, hard to believe. The parents, the grandparents are amazing people. I've known D.J. and Sarah since they were babies," D'Angelo said. "I'm praying for the Creato family, this is just awful for everybody involved."
Creato can be heard on a 911 call from the day Brendan vanished, reporting the missing child.
"I just woke up and my 3-year-old's missing," he says.
The 911 operator asks if the child is a boy or girl, and Creato says "A 3-year-old boy. His name is Brendan," then goes on to say the boy was wearing red pajamas.
"I just woke up and he wasn't in my apartment," he said after being asked by the 911 operator if he saw or heard anything. "I don't know if he wandered out or what happened. I don't know where he is."
"The door was locked. I guess he unlocked it and left," Creato continues. The 911 operator then asks him to stay on the line in case the police dispatcher has any more questions.
Creato is due to be arraigned Tuesday, and his bail has not yet been set. Prosecutors declined further comment on the case or the investigation.