By Justin Udo, David Spunt

HADDON TOWNSHIP, N.J., (CBS) — Authorities continue to investigate the death of a three-year-old New Jersey boy who went missing and was later found dead early Tuesday morning.

Friends, family and neighbors gathered Tuesday night to remember the young boy.

“It’s disheartening. It’s really sickening. I spent all day at work just thinking about this little one and couldn’t wait to come home and see her and I just really feel for the family and I couldn’t imagine having to go through anything like that,” said a resident.

A community is in pain as they mourn the death of three-year-old Brendan Link Creato.

Many of the people in attendance held candles and tried to hold back tears as they sang and read different poems and bible verses.

“But it’s fascinating that this entire town came together, when people who don’t even know him went out looking for him. It’s an amazing town,” said a resident.

As CBS 3’s David Spunt reports, neighbors woke up to text messages from authorities asking for help to find the three-year-old. He went missing from his dad’s apartment early Tuesday morning around 6 a.m. An intense search continued, until 9 a.m. when authorities found the little boy’s body near the woods not even half a mile from his dad’s home.

Eyewitness News has learned Brendan’s parents are separated and he spent the night with his dad. Family friends tell Eyewitness News both parents spent hours being questioned by police.

The crowd placed candles, stuffed animals, and a collage, in front the building where he spent the night. Brendan’s grandfather David Creato told Eyewitness News:  “I hope no parent or grandparent has to go through this. Brendan was the sunshine of our lives. He had a special character about him. We are devastated.”

Around 300 people showed up for the vigil to remember the little boy. Many in the crowd knew Brendan personally.

“He loved Pirates. He loved cats and dogs and he was going to be the Hulk for Halloween. He had his costume ready. He was a joy,” family friend Donna Duca said.

Samantha Denoto, Brendan’s mother released this statement to Eyewitness News:

“We are heartbroken by the loss of our beautiful boy Brendan Creato.   Along with the Creato family, who also lost a son and grandson, we are grieving and tremendously saddened. 

We thank the community, which searched this morning for Brendan and gathered tonight in his memory.  We appreciate your efforts and kind words.

We do not have any answers about what occurred. 

We do not intend to make any further statements.  We do not plan to speak to the media.  We request that we be provided with privacy during this very difficult time.”  

No one was charged with Brendan’s death as of Tuesday evening. Detectives are looking for tips. If you have any information, call the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office.