Julissa Thaler allegedly bought gun days before killing son

Lavinia Thompson

Leading up to the day she shot her son to death, family members expressed concerns Thaler would harm six-year-old Eli Hart before losing him, reports say.

The Star Tribune cited court documents in a report claiming Thaler “bought a shotgun and learned how to use it”, after the child’s father, Tory Hart, counter-filed papers to get custody of their son in what had already been a bitter dispute.

Twenty-eight-year-old Thaler has been charged with second degree murder, accused of shooting Eli and putting him in the trunk of her car, according to police. She was pulled over on May 20 for a shattered back window and driving on a bare rim. Reports say that when police spotted blood in the car, they searched it and found Eli’s body in the trunk, along with a shotgun.

Police are calling the murder intentional but “not premeditated.”

Julissa ThalerHennepin County Jail

The wife of Thaler’s cousin Nikita Kronberg, took Eli in for eleven months when he was placed in foster care in January 2021.

"I told the social worker and the guardian that I was worried that she would kill Eli to prevent his father from getting custody," Kronberg told the Star Tribune.

The criminal complaint says that Eli was shot up to nine times in the body and head.

The Star Tribune reports that police let Thaler leave the scene while they searched the car, going to her apartment after finding the body, only to discover the washing machine running with clothes she wore at the scene. She took off on foot, and they caught up to her, according to the criminal complaint, which adds it appeared she had blood in her hair.

Police say Thaler bought the gun on March 17. Tory Hart filed for custody six days prior. Thaler allegedly went to the gun range with a friend to learn how to shoot, according to police. The friend who accompanied her to the gun range is also in custody, according to the US Sun.

Eli’s father told the Tribune that he “gave the judge her detailed mental health history. I told him that she was displaying paranoia and auditory hallucinations. I said I feared for Eli's safety. It all fell on deaf ears."

The Star Tribune also reviewed Thaler’s medical records, which show an adolescence of being in and out of mental institutions. She allegedly ran away from home in her final high school year, was treated for drug and alcohol abuse, and lived on the street for a month and a half, the Tribune reports. Thaler has been diagnosed with depression, borderline personality disorder, and a mood disorder, according to the documents.

Thaler filed several restraining orders against Eli’s father, preventing him from having contact with his son.

“Due to many red flags, Eli's mother was showing, Tory tried extremely hard to get custody of Eli. Unfortunately, more false Orders of Protection were filed, which postponed custody hearings. Numerous parties made many statements to CPS, fearing that mom would harm Eli if full custody were returned,” Kronberg stated on the family’s Go Fund Me page

Thaler’s most recent protection order was filed March 16, according to records. Oxygen reports that social workers were unable to prove any of Thaler’s accusations against Hart, and called him a “stabilizing force” for Eli.

The family set up a Go Fund Me, which has gathered over $43,000 for Eli’s funeral. Julissa Thaler is being held at a Hennepin County detention facility, her bond set at $2 million. Her next court appearance is scheduled for June 21.

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Long time true crime lover and blogger who has spent years reading and studying criminal psychology. I also write mystery fiction books, and have a diploma in journalism.


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