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November 03, 2015

Neighbors: Police seek info on baby carriage found behind house near Creato home

Lawyer for boy's father says prosecutor owes some answers to concerned community

Brendan Creato Case Police
11032015_57_Strawberry_Ave_KS Kevin C. Shelly/PhillyVoice

Neighbors say a baby carriage was found in the backyard of this abandoned home at 57 Strawbridge Avenue in the Westmont neighborhood of Haddon Township. The home is just blocks from where three-year-old Brendan Creato disappeared Oct. 13 from an apartment house and from where an eyewitness reported seeing an older man pushing a covered baby carriage along Cooper Street in the early morning hours that day.

After discovering an abandoned baby carriage in the backyard of a vacant property late last week, Haddon Township police canvassed the neighborhood just blocks from where toddler Brendan Creato lived.

And not far from where he was found dead.

Police were seeking information from residents to determine how and when the carriage made its way into the secluded backyard at 57 Strawbridge Ave., numerous neighbors told PhillyVoice, asking to speak anonymously.

From the street, vines shroud one side of the property, covering a chain-link fence, and a boarded-up two-car garage blocks the view from the rear.

The financially distressed property where the carriage was found is under the control of BSI Financial Services. A spokesman for the Texas company said Tuesday he was not allowed to discuss the property.

Police investigators have been in and around the Westmont neighborhood for several weeks since the discovery of Brendan's body.

The Camden County Prosecutor's Office has not responded to several requests for comment on the carriage’s discovery and the canvassing by township officers.

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The abandoned house where a baby carriage was found is less than a quarter from mile the apartment house where Brendan Creato lived with his father and about three-quarters of a mile from where the toddler's body was found in the woods along South Park Drive. Haddon Township police have asked residents of Strawbridge Avenue if they know how the baby carriage got into the backyard but aren't saying it is related to the boy's death. (Graphic by PhillyVoice; map by GoogleMaps)

A lawyer for the boy’s father said Tuesday afternoon that it is time for prosecutor Mary E. Colalillo to begin providing the public with answers.

“This is really peculiar,” said Richard J. Fuschino Jr., who first learned of witnesses seeing a baby carriage – and the subsequent discovery of a carriage – from PhillyVoice. The lawyer said at the time he knew of no missing – or found – baby carriage related to his client or his client’s mother and father, who live two blocks from the apartment.

Fuschino also learned from the media – and not the prosecutor's office – that the toxicology report for the little boy’s autopsy showed an absence of drugs. The prosecutor’s office confirmed those results for him when he called on that Monday, but the office has declined to make a public statement about the toxicology report.

“They won’t publically confirm the tox report was negative. They won’t talk about the carriage. I can’t see how doing that would affect their case,” Fuschino said.

“People in the community are concerned and can’t get answers,” the Philadelphia lawyer added. “It warrants some sort of response from them.”

Fuschino said the lack of information coming from the prosecutor means there is no way of telling if the carriage discovered at the Strawbridge Avenue property is in any way related to the carriage seen near where Creato’s body was discovered.

Two witnesses have told authorities they saw a man pushing a baby carriage along Cooper Street around 7 a.m. on the morning of Oct. 13, the day Creato was reported missing.

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The body of Brendan Creato was discovered three weeks ago Tuesday in the woods near the Cooper River. (Facebook)

A police dog discovered the three-year-old boy's lifeless body at around 9 a.m. in the nearby woods behind Vesper Avenue.

An anatomical examination and a toxicology report have failed to pinpoint a cause of death for the boy, but the final autopsy remains pending three weeks after the child was found dead.

The initial findings by the Camden County medical examiner were reviewed by two additional medical examiners, including the acting state medical examiner.

About an hour before the man with the carriage was seen by eyewitnesses near the woods, Brendan Creato’s father, DJ Creato, called township police to report his son missing from the apartment they shared at the intersection of Virginia and Cooper streets.

One witness, Haddon Township resident Mark Hoover, has told PhillyVoice the man he saw was at least 60 years old, wore glasses, and had tan pants and yellow sweater.

Hoover has said he could not see into the carriage, which was covered by a blanket – the temperature was in the very low 50s – when he encountered the man around 7 a.m. along Cooper Street, between the Creatos' apartment house and the woods near the Cooper River.

He also told authorities the man pushing the carriage had attempted to stare him down.

Requests for comment made to the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office were not returned Tuesday.

Spokesman Andy McNeil has said his officer will contact reporters when it has information to release.

Fuschino, who said he has been told his client is not a suspect, has said social media speculation about his client and his client’s family, have blossomed in the absence of information from the county prosecutor.

“It’s having an effect,” he said.

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