Eli Hart – shot by his own mother while strapped into his car seat

Eli was born to Julissa and Tory Hart.  They met in 2013 when they were both 19.  Julissa had experienced mental health problems between the ages of 13 and 18.

Tory has said that Julissa seemed fine until she became pregnant with Eli in 2015 and stopped taking her medication.

Their relationship deteriorated and Tory moved out in 2016 after Julissa filed a second domestic abuse complaint against him. Julissa told police at this time that Tory hurt her during an argument and threatened to kill her with a shotgun.  No charges were filed by police due to ‘insufficient evidence.’ 

In another instance, Julissa told police that Tory had threatened to kill her if she ever left him.  She withdrew her complaint three days later, telling the police  “that because of her mental health issues she constantly accuses Tory of things that he doesn’t do.”

Julissa moved in with her grandmother Linda Genrich after the breakup. Linda said she believed Julissa’s stories of abuse at first. “She is good at manipulating people, I know that,” Linda said.

Julissa and Tory remained separate after the breakup until 2019.  Julissa then showed up at the wedding of Tory’s sister, uninvited.  A few months after that, she contacted the police in St Paul, Minnesota and accused Tory of putting a nail bomb in her car.  No charges were filed (Tory was living in Wisconsin, two hours away at the time), but a judge ordered Tory to stay away from Julissa for two years.  

I believe during their separation, there was a bitter custody battle going on. In 2021, Eli was removed from Julissa’s care and put into a foster home.

This info about Julissa’s behavior at the time is from the Star Tribune:

She was arrested for stealing drugs from a health clinic and tested positive for methadone and oxycontin, records show. She was booted from two homes by landlords fed up with her antics, which drew police to her Farmington home 21 times in 10 months. She failed to attend court-ordered mental therapy, was kicked out of a required parenting class and had to find a new drug-testing facility because of her “bizarre behavior.”

The courts had been considering placing Eli with Tory instead of in a foster home, but did not move forward with that after Julissa kept making allegations of domestic abuse against him.  She wrote a letter to the judges protesting that she was ‘an amazing parent’  who ‘always put her son first’.  

(Just to note, in Minnesota, unwed fathers have no custodial rights unless awarded by the court).

While Eli was in foster care, Julissa regularly told him that it was his own fault he had been taken from her care.  She apparently suffered a psychotic episode – I can’t quite make sense of the reporting but Julissa ended up being locked out of the house and eggs had been smeared all over the floor.  She told Eli ‘That made them come and get you’, referring to DHS.

Police visited Julissa’s home as often as twice a week. Ambulances were requested several times after she fainted or complained of other health problems. Police also showed up after a neighbor reported “banging and screaming.”

Eli became very wary of Julissa.  During their supervised visits, he would hide behind furniture and refused to talk to her.  After their visits were finished, he often had bathroom accidents, according to social workers.

Tory had visits with Eli during this time.  Officials have said that he passed thorough background checks and was a “stabilizing force” in Eli’s life. They documented no concerns about his fitness as a parent.

“Mr. Hart brings age appropriate toys and activities and is very engaging with Eli,” a social worker noted last year. “During these visits, Eli is noticeably smiling, talkative, energetic and he seems to enjoy them.”

In December 2021, the order that we mentioned earlier where Tory was told to stay away from Julissa was up for renewal.  Julissa did not show up at the hearing.  When she was asked by a social worker why she didn’t show up, Julissa said, “I wanted to keep my options open.” The social worker also made a note in a report at that time that Julissa reached out to Tory’s partner Josie Josephson and said that Tory should adopt Eli, calling her ex-boyfriend “a good guy.”

Despite this apparent change of heart, Julissa did another 360.  Eli was allowed to move back into Julissa’s home in December 2021 on a trial basis.  At this time, she filed ANOTHER domestic abuse claim against Tory.  She accused him of telling Eli that he would “make Mommy disappear” if she won custody. She also blamed Tory for Eli’s behavioral problems at school, including hitting, biting and urinating in his pants.  These claims were rejected in court but the filing meant that Tory could not get any public assistance in his custody battle.  

In February 2022, a Ramsey County judge dismissed Julissa’s request for a restraining order against Tory after finding that her allegations of abuse were ‘not proved’.  She tried again in March to get another restraining order.  On May 4, 2022, Eli’s guardian, Sherri Larson, dismissed the latest request for a protective order, noting there were “no new allegations,” and that she could find “no solid evidence to support any of the claims.” 

Julissa’s grandmother Linda changed her mind about her abuse theories and said to her after the restraining order was filed “ That man doesn’t have a mean bone in his body,” Linda said. “I said, ‘You drop that restraining order right now or you can consider our relationship done.’ That was the last time I talked to her.”  He’s ‘a good guy’.

On March 11, 2022 Tory applied for full custody of Eli.  On March 30 a judge ruled to maintain Dakota County Social Services’ custody of the boy. The case was then given an inactive status while the Dakota County CPS case was being resolved.

On May 10, 2022, Dakota County Judge Tim Wermager removed Eli from the state’s protection.  A Dakota County social worker AND Eli’s court appointed guardian both recommended that Eli be placed back in Julissa’s care.  In her final report, social worker Beth Dehner noted that Julissa was “taking her mental health medication regularly” and had been taking Eli to all of his medical and therapy appointments since November.

“There is no current indication that her son is physically unsafe in her care,” the social worker noted.

Just ten days after she was awarded full custody of Eli, Julissa was stopped by police while driving her vehicle .  This info is from the search warrant for this case.

Your Affiant has learned that on 5/70/2022 @ 0705 hours, the Orono Police Department responded to the area 2350 Cypress La in Mound, MN, Hennepin County. The reporting party called Hennepin County Dispatch advising of a suspicious silver car driving on the rim of the car, and that the back window was smashed out. At 0711 hours, Orono officers located the vehicle in question,noting that it was operating on the rim only of the front driver side tire.

Police said that Julissa looked very dishevelled and had blood on her hands, face and clothing.  There was also a lot of blood visible on the rear of the vehicle.  When the police asked why she was covered in blood, Julissa said it was because she had been removing a tampon.  

Officers also noticed what appeared to be a meat-like tissue matter in the vehicle.  Julissa told them that she had deer meat.  She said she had gotten it from an unknown butcher the night before.  

I am not sure wtf happened but police did not search the car thoroughly at this time.  Julissa was released from the scene as officers said she was ‘growing impatient, cold and refused to sit in a squad car’.  Officers drove her home.

Police did eventually decide to impound the vehicle for further investigation.  They noticed bullet holes and more blood throughout the car.  They finally opened the trunk and found a shotgun.  There was also a gray blanket.  When the blanket was moved, officers found a ‘deceased, apparent juvenile human body with heavy facial trauma’.

Police quickly returned to the address where they had dropped Julissa off.  She was not there.  They reviewed CCTV and saw that Julissa had left the complex with a male, just minutes before they arrived.  The clothes that Julissa had been wearing during the traffic stop were found in the washing machine.  They didn’t get very far and Julissa and her boyfriend, Robert Pikkarainen, were taken into custody.  

Police tracked the damage that tireless rim had done and along the route they found more human remains, as well as a child’s carseat that had been damaged by a gunshot blast.  This implies to me that Julissa shot Eli while he was buckled in his car seat.  

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed that Eli’s cause of death was  from multiple shotgun wounds. Julissa is thought to have shot Eli up to nine times.

Julissa had purchased the shotgun in March 2022.  She told a friend that she wanted to learn how to use the gun, so the friend went with her to a gun range over  a two day period.  

Julissa was charged with second-degree murder.  She remains in jail in lieu of a $2m bail.  She faces up to 40 years in prison. 

“I blame the court system for not helping her out,” Linda Genrich said. “We all told the social workers that she needs to be institutionalized — not just for a month, but maybe for a year or more. But nobody listened.”

Tory’s partner Josie also spoke out following the murder:

“I can’t even tell you how many times we expressed our concerns. I’m beyond frustrated that the system failed Eli.”

“Nobody would help us,” she said. “I always thought there was a missing piece in Tory. … It wasn’t until he was reunited with Eli that the light went back on in his eyes.”



https://www.facebook.com/tory.hart.79- Tory’s Facebook




https://content.govdelivery.com/attachments/MNHENNE/2022/05/24/file_attachments/2166928/2022-03592%20Hart,%20Eli%20Kenneth%20Alejo.pdf – ME press release



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