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Six-year-old Eli Hart has been identified by family and friends as the boy found dead in the trunk of a car in Mound on Friday, with his mother arrested on suspicion of murdering him. 

Earlier Saturday, Westonka Public Schools confirmed that the victim was a kindergarten student at Shirley Hills Primary School in Mound. Crisis teams and counselors will be available to students, staff and parents at district buildings beginning Monday. 

"It is horrifying and difficult to process a tragedy of this magnitude, especially in our close-knit community. My thoughts and prayers go out to all those who are grieving this profound loss," Superintendent Kevin Borg wrote in a letter to families. 

Hart's body was found in the trunk of a car around 7 a.m. Friday, after Orono police were alerted to someone driving a silver car on a tire rim with the back window smashed. 

Officers conducted the traffic stop at Shoreline Drive and Bartlett Boulevard and found blood inside the car while speaking to the female driver. The boy's body was found in the trunk moments later.  

Court records reveal that Eli Hart's father, Tory Hart, had been fighting for custody against Hart's mother. In January 2021, Dakota County filed a child protection services (CPS) order and gave legal and physical custody of Eli Hart to Dakota County Social Services. 

Tory Hart filed to establish full custody on March 11, 2022, and 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, Eli Hart's mother was granted full custody, according to WCCO. 

The case was then reopened on May 12 and Eli Hart's parents were due to appear for an initial case management conference on June 21. 

As of Saturday night, a GoFundMe to cover funeral expenses had exceeded its goal of generating $20,000.

"We now need to plan a funeral for a child to be laid to rest. Many parents don't intend to bury their child, so we are unsure how much a funeral and headstone will cost. These donations will cover the cost of the funeral and headstone for this sweet angel and cover any wage loss as [his father] grieves the loss of his son," the fundraiser says. 

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