Ten-year-old Ayden Wolfe had his whole life ahead of him, and big dreams of becoming a champion gamer on YouTube. But the Harlem youngster’s life was cut tragically short over the weekend, an apparent victim of horrific child abuse.
As Wolfe’s family continues to mourn his death, friends and relatives have set up a GoFundMe account hoping to raise $15,000 to pay for his funeral.
Wolfe was killed on March 6 inside the apartment where he and his mother resided within the St. Nicholas Houses in Harlem. Police found him brutally beaten, unconscious and unresponsive, when they responded to a 911 call at the home that afternoon, apparently made by Ryan Cato, 34.
Detectives subsequently arrested Cato, who was the boyfriend of Wolfe’s mother, in connection the child’s death. Police said Wolfe suffered horrific injuries consistent with prolonged, violent physical abuse — including lacerated organs and broken ribs.
Cato faces charges of murder and criminal possession of a weapon; on Tuesday, police officially classified Wolfe’s death at a homicide.
Jennifer Aponte, the organizer of the GoFundMe page and the victim’s cousin, wrote that Ayden “was an intelligent, tech savvy, fun-loving boy with dreams of becoming a YouTube gamer” who was “loved immensely by family and his mother.”
“He was super funny, intelligent, observing, knowledgeable. I think he was ahead of his years,” Aponte said in a phone interview with amNewYork Metro on Tuesday. “He spoke like a young articulate man, you wouldn’t think he was 10. His vocabulary was very broad and we just always had a good time. A lot of laughs, joking, he was just a fun kid.”
Aponte said she could not recall ever seeing Ayden in physical or emotional distress, or seeing his mother behave in an aggressive or abusive manner. She stated that she did not ever meet Cato.
“I just know in my heart she would not hurt her son and would do anything she could do to protect him, unless she was a victim herself,” she said.
Aponte says that her focus now is ensuring that Ayden receives a proper and dignified funeral.
“He’s the real victim here and he deserves to have a nice home-going, and right now that’s my focus because this really hurts heart,” she said.
As of 12:45 p.m. on March 9, close to a third of the $15,000 fundraising goal had already been met, with $4,250 donated by 46 individuals.
To make a donation, visit the GoFundMe page, https://gofund.me/23957a7e.