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Mother charged with murder in death of 6-year-old

An autopsy revealed Eli Hart was shot multiple times and that his mother, Julissa Angelica Genrich Thaler, had human remains in her hair when arrested by police.

ORONO, Minn — Murder charges have been filed against a Spring Park woman in the shooting death of her young son.

A criminal complaint filed in Hennepin County District Court Monday lays out the case against 28-year-old Julissa Angelica Genrich Thaler, identified by family members and court documents as the biological mother of 6-year-old Eli Hart. Mound police officers found the boy's body in the trunk of a car Thaler was driving early Friday. 

Police first encountered Thaler during a traffic stop initiated when officers noticed the Impala she was driving was missing a front tire and had the back window shot out. The complaint says police saw a live shotgun shell and a spent casing inside the vehicle, and what appeared to be a bullet hole in the back seat. They also noticed blood on the defendant's hand, but released Thaler from the scene. 

Shortly after she left, police determined there was probable cause to search the vehicle, and they located the body of a child, later identified as Eli Hart, in the trunk along with a shotgun. 

RELATED: Family identifies boy found in trunk of vehicle; 2 in custody

Squads immediately went to the Thaler's apartment and found that she wasn't there but the washing machine was running. The complaint says the clothes worn by the defendant were being washed in the machine. Officers soon located Thaler attempting to leave the area on foot and placed her under arrest. Police observed what appeared to be blood and human remains in her hair.  

Investigators spoke to witnesses and tracked damage caused to the road by the tireless rim on Thaler's car to trace her movements before the traffic stop. They found human remains, a child's car seat damaged by what police believe was a gunshot blast, and a backpack left in various dumpsters and locations. 

The criminal complaint states that investigators questioned a friend of Thaler who told them that in the week before the child's death, she said she wanted to learn how to use a gun. The witness said Thaler bought a shotgun on March 17, and that they had gone to a shooting range the next two days. During that time she allegedly carried the shotgun in and out of the apartment wrapped in a gray blanket. 

Investigators found a gray blanket in the trunk of Thaler's impounded car. 

Results of an autopsy indicate the child was shot as many as nine times. 

Court records show Thaler had recently been embroiled in custody disputes with Eli's father Tory Hart. 

On Tuesday, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office confirmed that the body was of 6-year-old Eli and determined his manner of death was homicide, caused by multiple gunshot wounds. Police added that the investigation has spread across multiple jurisdictions after evidence was found in Mound and Minnetrista.

A 27-year-old man was also arrested in connection with the boy's death, but the Hennepin County Attorney's Office says there is not enough evidence to charge him at this time. 

The news of Eli's death has hit communities along Lake Minnetonka's shoreline hard. Counselors are on hand at the school where he was a kindergartner, and a memorial is growing along the bridge leading from Spring Park to Mound. 

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