Funeral for battered Harlem boy: ‘None of us can say that’s not our child’

Local News

THE BRONX, N.Y. — Family and friends said a final farewell Tuesday to a 10-year-old boy who was fatally beaten inside his Harlem apartment earlier this month.

The church pastor who eulogized Ayden Wolfe had a message for the neighbors and teachers who mournfully gathered to pay their respects to the young victim of Battered Child Syndrome.

“None of us can say that’s not our child,” said Rev. Joseph Jones, pastor of Mount Herman Baptist Church. “I think everybody is going to have to be responsible for helping all of our children.”

On March 6, Ayden — who lived with his mother — was found naked and unresponsive on the floor of his family’s living room at the St. Nicholas Houses NYCHA complex on West 131st Street. His face and body were covered with old and new bruises. Multiple ribs were cracked; his liver, spleen and kidney were lacerated.

His mother’s new boyfriend, Ryan Cato, was arrested on a charge of murder in the second degree — accused of beating Ayden to death over a two-day period.

Cato faced previous charges in Brooklyn for allegedly trying to choke the biological mother of his children.

At Ayden’s funeral Tuesday, one of the floral arrangements brought into the church consisted of white flowers in the shape of angel’s wings, with a halo attached.

One of the mourners outside, a member of the church who identified herself as Peaches, said, “As a mother, we have to be very mindful of who we have around our children,” but she added, “I know it wasn’t the mother’s fault.”

Police believe Ayden’s mother was also a victim of abuse and could be heard yelling “stop” during at least one of the beatings her son endured.

Tragically, police had responded to a 911 call from St. Nicholas Houses on March 5, the day before Ayden’s death. 

The caller reported a disturbance on the fourth floor that possibly involved a child. Responding officers from PSA # 6 went to the floor and tried to reach the 911 caller twice before leaving.  

Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said the protocols followed after the 911 call were being looked at.

Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison also said the officers’ actions were under investigation.

“There is a review currently going on regarding the way the officers from PSA # 6 (housing police) handled that job,” he told PIX11.

When the officers responded to the 911 call on March 5, they knew the caller had heard yelling and banging for about 40 minutes. The caller also reported hearing someone moaning in pain.

A source told PIX11 News there are eight apartments on the fourth floor, and the officers were looking and listening for signs of a domestic disturbance. It’s not clear if they knocked on any doors. 

The cops said they left after 12 to 14 minutes to respond to other calls, the source told PIX11.

Neighbors heard another disturbance the next morning before 11:30 a.m.

One person later reported to police that he heard a man yelling about “not listening.” A woman also was heard screaming, “Stop!” before the man asked if she wanted to be next.

Sometime after 2 p.m., Cato called 911 and said Ayden wasn’t responsive.

When police arrived, they found Ayden on the floor. He was pronounced dead within the hour at Harlem Hospital.

A source told PIX11 that Cato said the child used to go outside a lot and was beaten up by neighborhood kids, but detectives didn’t believe his version of events.

“The investigators from the 32nd Precinct did a phenomenal job of not listening to Ryan Cato’s alibi, and working with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. They were able to get him charged with murder in the second degree,” Chief Harrison added.

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