Philadelphia News & Search
David “D.J.” Creato Jr. told investigators his 17-year-old girlfriend had threatened to leave him several days before his 3-year-old son, Brendan, was found dead, and that Creato had argued with her because she disliked Brendan and wanted nothing to do with the boy.
“We’ve always been breaking up over this — three times now,” Creato said in a questioning room at the Haddon Township Police Department, less than 20 minutes after investigators told him they had found his son’s body in woods near the Cooper River.
Prosecutors now point to Creato’s comments as motive. They say Creato killed Brendan to stop his girlfriend from leaving him in October 2015.
The girlfriend, Julia Stensky, now 19, was away at Pace University in New York when Brendan died and has not been charged, authorities say. She and Creato met on the dating app Tinder in June 2015.
Jurors on Wednesday watched more than an hour of the video recording of Creato’s interview with investigators. Afterward, Assistant Prosecutor Christine Shah pointed to a map that indicated Creato and Stensky had previously gone to the spot in the woods where Brendan was found.
Creato called 911 and reported his son missing around 6 a.m. on Oct. 13, 2015, saying he woke up and Brendan was gone.
The night before, according to Creato’s interview with detectives, he had put Brendan to bed on the living room couch. Creato said he then exchanged text messages with Stensky, and that she told him she was going to bed around 8:30 p.m. because she had a test the next day.
Creato, in the video, said he found it odd she was going to bed so early. He was also worried Stensky was talking to a man at school. So he called her — 10 times, according to authorities.
“I was just being jealous,” Creato said in the video. “And I kept calling her.”
Stensky never answered.
In the questioning room the next morning, investigators waited 51 minutes to tell Creato his missing son had been found — and lied when Creato asked.
Capt. Willie Mahan of the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office asked Creato if he was withholding information. Creato said he was not.
When Creato was told his son had been found dead, he yelled, “Oh God, no, no, no.”
Later in the interview, Creato told investigators it blew his mind that Brendan had been found near the Cooper River — three-quarters of a mile from Creato’s apartment.
“I don’t see him walking out the door and just leaving,” Creato said, saying Brendan had never done so before. Creato suggested the possibility that someone else had keys to the apartment building near Virginia Avenue and Cooper Street, where he lived in a one-bedroom unit on the second floor.
But he also said of Brendan: “He’s a very curious kid, he loves adventuring.”
Brendan’s mother, Samantha Denoto, did not live with Creato.
Creato had access to his father’s black Chevy Silverado truck — which authorities later searched — and told detectives he had last used it the night before Brendan went missing.
Creato said he had driven to his family’s house a couple blocks away, but turned around to his apartment after learning his sister and mother — Brendan’s aunt and grandmother — were walking the boy there. They had just given the boy a bath and put him in pajamas.
Today is the third day of testimony. Judge John T. Kelley said jurors will view sensitive photos of the crime scene later this afternoon.
The trial is expected to last through May.
Philadelphia News & Search