Slain toddler Baby Ru allegedly had a piece of fabric, similar in appearance to a shoelace, wrapped around his neck when he arrived at hospital, which had to be cut off by doctors, his family have revealed.
On October 22, up to 12 hours after suffering severe injuries to his head, Ruthless-Empire Souljah Reign Rhind Shephard Wall arrived at Hutt Hospital. He was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.
The toddler, now known as Nga Reo Te Huatahi Reremoana Ahipene-Wall, was living at a home in the Lower Hutt suburb of Taitā with his mother Storm Wall, Rosie Morunga and her partner Dylan Ross.
The Herald can now reveal that a piece of fabric, similar to a shoelace and about 30cm long, was allegedly wrapped around his neck when he arrived at the hospital.
Detective Inspector Nick Pritchard confirmed to the Herald a hard drive police are seeking was used to record CCTV footage from the property.
On Friday evening Wall told whānau she wanted to make a new statement after police made an appeal for information, and was interviewed by police in Taupō for several hours.
While at the police station Baby Ru’s great-aunt, Sarah Reremoana, said she was shown a photocopied photo of a piece of fabric that she thought looked like a shoelace.
“[The piece of fabric] had been tied quite tightly twice around the neck … it was around the baby’s neck and the doctor cut it off his neck,” she alleged.
Reremoana said she was in tears looking at the photo.
“It’s quite sad when you’re sitting with them and they just take off another layer and another layer and it just gets worse and worse.
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“You could see the way it had been put around a circle and where doctors had cut … it was pretty fixed around his neck,” she claimed.
“When you find out little details like this it just breaks your heart more … ”
Police investigating the death of Baby Ru are seeking sightings of this vehicle on October 22, the day he was taken to Hutt Hospital. Photo / NZ Police
Reremoana said Wall’s interview lasted several hours. Reremoana said police told her that Wall’s statement was “inconsistent”.
The revelation comes after police confirmed to the Herald they were after sightings of a hard drive believed to contain CCTV footage from the address where the toddler suffered the fatal injuries.
Detective Inspector Nick Pritchard said the hard drive was used to record CCTV footage from the property.
The hard drive is a Provision-ISR NVR5-8200PX+ DVR.
“We urge anyone with any information on the hard drive, or sightings of the vehicle to get in contact.”
Reremoana told the Herald that police had informed her a hard drive was one of the main items staff wanted to find.
“The hard drive is one of the main items that they want to retrieve and find because that could hold a lot of information,” Reremoana said.
She said the whānau were regularly visiting the urupā.
“We’re just trying to remember him as much as we can positively and hopefully get the truth and a better outcome very shortly.”
Last week Pritchard said police were looking for sightings of a car used to take the toddler to hospital.
The car is a grey-green Nissan sedan with the number plate TE6972.
Detective Inspector Nick Pritchard said police were seeking sightings of the Nissan sedan on the day Ru died. Photo / Mark Mitchell
All of the three persons of interest were in the car at the time it was driven to the hospital.
The car then returned to the address where they lived and items related to the investigation were removed, he said.
Wall earlier claimed in an interview with the Herald that, on the evening of October 21, one of the people in the house told her to go to bed and that they would look after Ru.
About 10pm, he was put into her bed. Wall said he “looked normal”.
“I just gave him a last hug, just checking he’s all right.”
When she woke the next morning, he was “drowsy”. “I thought he was tired.”
She was getting ready to visit a cousin when she heard noises in the house. She claimed she was then told Ru was choking.
Ruthless-Empire, who was almost 2, died in hospital from serious head injuries on October 22.
She tried doing first aid, “to see if he could get any form of phlegm or anything out and therefore he was getting his grasp of breath”.
She then took him to the hospital.
Asked whether she had any part in her son’s death, she replied: “No, I didn’t.
“I just want justice for my son ... I want justice for my Ru Ru.”
Police are looking for CCTV footage to track the movements of the car and were seeking sightings of it anywhere between metropolitan Wellington and the Hutt Valley between the morning of October 22 and the middle of the afternoon on October 24.
Police have now seized and examined the vehicle.
They were in constant communication with the three people of interest, who were providing varying levels of co-operation, Pritchard said.
“I cannot say what their motives are for not giving us the full story.
“There has been progress, we have been interacting with them and others to build a picture of what happened that morning.”
All of Baby Ru’s injuries were to his head.
“Our belief is that these were intentionally caused injuries to this child,” Pritchard said.
Police believe the injuries were inflicted on the morning of October 22, although they could have been inflicted up to 12 hours before his death.
Sam Sherwood is a Christchurch-based reporter who covers crime. He is a senior journalist who joined the Herald in 2022, and has worked as a journalist for 10 years.
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