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Community, family mourn the loss of 6-year-old found dead in Mound

County jail records show the boy's mother and a 27-year old man were taken into custody.

MOUND, Minn. — It's been two horrific days for the family of a child found dead inside the trunk of a car in Mound, Friday.

"Eli was a very happy, energetic 6-year-old boy," said Josie Josephson. "He loved his dad immensely. His eyes would light up when he saw his dad."

Josephson is the fiancé of Tory Hart, Eli's father. She remembers the exact moment she heard the news.

"Great sadness and disappointment this happened, when this shouldn't have," she said.

County jail records show the boy's mother and a 27-year old man were taken into custody. Court records show the boy's mother had also recently engaged in custody disputes with Eli's father.

"Although Eli wasn't biologically my own, I fought side by side with Tory to try to get him custody of him; in my heart he was my own son," she said. "We expressed our concerns numerous times."

It's a tragic event Mound Mayor Ray Salazar says has rocked his small town.

"Our hearts go out to the family," said Salazar. "For myself, and I'm sure I share with all of our great citizens in our city, it's a horrible, horrifying situation ... You can't imagine the pain that this family must be going through, Tory, Eli's family."

And now, a community is in mourning. 

"I feel we failed as a community, the most vulnerable, a 6-year-old little boy, who was forgotten," said Mound resident, Jane Anderson.

For Josie Josephson, she's praying no other family has to experience a similar pain. "I'm going to continue changing things so this doesn't happen to another child, and fathers' rights are protected, and heard," she said.

School counselors and staff will be available in all Westonka school buildings to support students, staff and parents. 

There is a GoFundMe page to help the family with expenses, which has already reached more than $33,000 as of Sunday night.

An investigation into the incident is ongoing, but Orono PD says there is no further threat to the public. 

Charges for both suspects are still pending. 

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