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Crime News Breaking News

Minnesota Mom Allegedly Shot Young Son Nine Times, Hid Body In Car Trunk

Julissa Thaler allegedly purchased a shotgun and tested it at a firing range before shooting her six-year-old son Eli Hart several times, according to a criminal complaint.

By Dorian Geiger
Police Lights Night G

A Minnesota mother is facing murder charges after allegedly shooting her young son multiple times and disposing of his body in her vehicle’s trunk.

Julissa Angelica Genrich Thaler, 28, was arrested after her six-year-old son, Eli Hart, was found dead in the trunk of her vehicle last week. She was charged with murder and second-degree murder with intent, online jail records show. 

Investigators say Thaler allegedly bought a shotgun in March and visited a gun range shortly before the deadly shooting, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported, citing the case’s criminal complaint.

Orono police officers found Eli Hart’s bullet-ridden body in the trunk of Thaler’s vehicle on May 20 after law enforcement pulled her over in Mound, Minnesota, about 20 miles southwest of Minneapolis, driving on the bare rim of a burst tire. They noticed a broken window, blood on Thaler's hands, a shotgun and a spent casing and a bullet hole in the bloodied back seat, according to a statement of probable cause obtained by Fox 9 in Minneapolis. They ultimately had to tow the damaged vehicle in order to search it.

Eli had been shot nine times in his body and head, according to the Star Tribune. 

KSTP reported that an unidentified man was also taken into police custody in connection with the incident, but noted the individual hadn’t been officially charged.

According to the probable cause statement, police then got a tip that Thaler's car had been at a gas station, and there they recovered "a backpack, blood, bone and what looked like brain matter." They were also able to track other locations to which Thaler had apparently driven, due tips and to the road damage caused by driving on her rim, and found other bloody items and more brain matter, including a bloody child car booster seat with shotgun damage.

Thaler, who had been released at the scene when officers towed her car, was arrested with blood and brain matter in her hair, according to the statement.

A specific motive in the young boy's killing hasn't been released.

According to court records and family members, Thaler attained full custody of her son just 10 days before the murder following a tumultuous custody battle with the child’s father, Tory Hart.

Prior to the six-year-old’s slaying, a social worker and court guardian had expressed concerns regarding Thaler gaining custody of the young boy, according to Minneapolis television station KARE.

Specifically, court workers believed Thaler could be actively sabotaging the boy’s relationship with his father, who had been described by a court-appointed guardian as a “stabilizing force.”

Thaler was allegedly “doing everything she can to prohibit contact between Eli and his father,” the child’s guardian ad litem stated, according to the child protection case’s report.

Social workers were ultimately unable to verify accusations that Thaler made against the boy’s father.

He had reportedly counter-filed for full custody of the young boy in March, but that case stalled.

Case records also allege Thaler has a history of acute mental illness, but had stopped seeking out treatment. Court workers in the custody case took issue with Thaler’s alleged past drug issues, as well as her failure to attend a parenting education program, and accused her of providing unstable housing for her son.

In mid-March — amid the custody battle over Eli — Thaler allegedly bought a shotgun. A friend told detectives that she later practiced using the firearm at a gun range, the case’s criminal complaint stated, according to the Star Tribune.

No further information was released by officials regarding the active case this week. A spokesperson for the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office didn’t immediately respond to Oxygen.com’s questions surrounding the open investigation on Wednesday afternoon.

A woman identifying herself as Eli's prior foster mom have set up a GoFundMe page for Tory Hart and his fiancé Josie Josephson, which has raised more than $43,000. According to the fundraising page, the father and son had only rekindled their relationship in January 2021, after Eli Hart entered foster care. 

The woman behind the GoFundMe stated that Eli was returned to Thaler's care on a trial basis in December 2021 before her full custody was restored on May 10.

“Due to several false Orders of Protection filed by Eli's mother, Tory could not have a relationship with Eli,” after Thaler gained primary custody, the campaign’s description stated. 

Thaler is being held at a Hennepin County detention facility on a $2 million bond, according to online jail records obtained by Oxygen.com. She has a court appearance scheduled for June 21 at 2:15 p.m.