A 10-year-old boy was killed in his apartment in Harlem over the weekend, and his mother’s boyfriend was arrested and charged with his murder.
Police officers responding to a reported assault on Saturday at the St. Nicholas public-housing complex on West 131st Street found the boy, Ayden Wolfe, unconscious in his living room. A police official said he was “covered in bruises old and new,” with puncture wounds and lacerations. He was declared dead at Harlem Hospital.
Ryan Cato, 34, who the police said lived with Ayden and his mother, was arrested on Sunday, the police said. Ayden’s mother was not charged in the boy’s death.
Mr. Cato has been arrested at least twice before, including in December on charges of assaulting a woman by strangling her, and last February on charges of assaulting a school-bus driver, a police official said.
A neighbor who lives down the hall, Destiny Rogers, said she heard a raised voice coming from the direction of the family’s apartment Saturday afternoon. “I heard a male yelling,” she said. She was able to make out the words “down” and, later, “calm.”
A woman who said she was a cousin of Ayden’s mother described the boy as “super smart, super intelligent,” adding that he dreamt of becoming a professional YouTube gamer.
“He was very technologically savvy, well-mannered,” said the woman, who identified herself only as Jennifer A.
Jennifer said Ayden was his mother’s only child and that she doted on him. “They were always together,” she said.
She said Ayden’s mother had survived brain cancer as a teenager and that it had left her disabled. “She’s very protective over him — she was a good mom,” Jennifer said. “I don’t understand what went wrong.”
As a makeshift memorial took shape outside the building on Sunday, a neighbor, Judynell Groce, taped up a child’s fleece blanket decorated with stars, clouds, sheep and a prayer.
Ms. Groce said Ayden and his mother had lived in the building for about three years.
“The son is very quiet, a very quiet young boy,” Ms. Groce said as she taped up balloons. “This is just my tribute to him.”