The death of New Zealand toddler Ruthless-Empire Souljah Reign Ahipene-Wall — or, Ru for short — is now being investigated as a homicide, after brutal findings in an autopsy.
“Baby Ru” was unresponsive when he was taken to a Lower Hutt hospital at 12.30pm on Sunday.
He died a short time later and an autopsy confirmed blunt force trauma was the cause of his death.
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The previously “unexplained death” was upgraded to a homicide investigation on Thursday.
Wellington Police have examined the Taita residence where Ru allegedly sustained his injuries, and spoke to several adults believed to be present there at the time.
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Disturbing reports of wet wipes found in Ru’s mouth before his death were made by family members, who claimed the toddler had never tried to eat wet wipes before.
“We are aware of reports that Ru had ingested wet wipes before his death,” Wellington Police detective inspector Nick Pritchard said.
“However, the post-mortem confirmed this did not contribute to his death — it was the injuries he sustained that did.
“We believe that these injuries were not accidental.
“This level of violence towards a child is difficult to fathom.”
Three adults known to Ru are persons of interest in the ongoing investigation, police confirmed.
Family are mourning NZ toddler Ru Ahipene-Wall after he died from blunt force trauma on Sunday. Credit: Ngatanahira Reremoana/Facebook
Ru’s whānau — his extended family — had been preparing to celebrate his birthday with him, but are instead helping police with their inquiries.
“He would have turned two years old yesterday,” Pritchard said.
“He was an innocent child, who should have been safe, and loved, and should not have died as he did.”
The heartbroken family shared their tributes, and murder claims, on social media in the days before the autopsy findings were released.
Ru’s uncle Ngatanahira Reremoana wrote: “I’ve got no words to explain the pain of what our whānau are going through right now. It’s just happening too fast, and uncle is only just catching up on reality.
“Be brave little one.
“We as a whānau have a long few days ahead of us as we mourn our loss of this beautiful Souljah.
“I have the deepest regrets not being with you when we stopped in on our way home from up north, that was the last time uncle had seen the smile on your face.”
Wellington Police are offering victim support to the wider family and said they are “determined” to hold those responsible for the death accountable with a thorough investigation.
“This is a heartbreaking situation, and we have an extensive investigation team committed to getting answers about what happened to Ru,” Pritchard said.
“We urge those who have information about what happened to Baby Ru to look deep, and do the right thing, and tell us what you know.”
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