Child beaten to death by mother’s boyfriend

Officers were dispatched to the fourth floor of a Harlem apartment building for a report of a domestic disturbance on the afternoon of Friday, March 5. The 911 caller stated that they were unable to identify which apartment it was coming from, but that it had been going on for some time and there was a child present.


When the officers arrived to the fourth floor however, they could not hear any signs of a domestic dispute from the hallway. They remained there for 12 minutes and attempted to call the person that had made the 911 call twice, but each time the call went to voicemail.  With nothing else to go on, they returned to their patrol.


Saturday afternoon at approximately 2:20 pm officers returned to the fourth floor of the St. Nicholas Houses, this time, on a report of an unresponsive child.


Inside the apartment, they found 10-year-old Ayden Wolfe nude, wet and in the bathtub from a failed attempt to revive him. He was transported to Harlem Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 4:20 pm by an emergency room pediatrician.


An autopsy determined that Ayden's cause of death was "fatal child-abuse syndrome."


Assistant District Attorney Nichole Blumberg listed off the injuries revealed by the autopsy. Ayden was "Covered from head to toe with bruises. He had bruises on both arms and hands, both legs, his head and his face, including behind his ears, his chest, his back, and even between his toes. The child had ribs broken on both sides of his body. Some ribs had multiple fractures."


Additionally, Ayden had a lacerated sleep, lacerated liver, lacerated kidney, and a lacerated renal vein.


Ryan Cato, 34, has been arrested and charged with two counts of second-degree murder and endangering the welfare of a child. The lead charge of murder involves intent, with the second addressing that the victim was a child. At his arraignment yesterday night, he was ordered to be held without bail.


Ayden's 32-year-old mother has been taken in for questioning by investigators but no charges have been filed against her at this time.


Ayden's father, Darnell Wolfe, who had not seen his son since June spoke with the Daily News saying, "My son- where do I begin? He had charisma. He just shined. His personality was amazing. If only you could see how much love he had. That was my son."


When asked about his ex-fiancée he responded saying that she "let the devil into this house." He continued, "She made a deal with this devil. ...It's impossible that you don't know what's happening with our child."


Cato has previous charges against him for assault dating back to December 29, 2020 when he is alleged to have struck and choked the mother of his child in front of the 6-year-old. When protection order was issued barring him from the home that he had shared with that woman, he moved in with Ayden's mother.


He was arrested again last month for assaulting a yellow bus driver in Brooklyn.


A woman identified as Jennifer, Ayden's cousin, said that his mother was "a good mom" and that she "was very protective of him."


"I've never seen a bruise, a scratch or anything on him," she said. "That boy was everything to her. She would never hurt Ayden. She just would not. Something had to go terribly wrong."


According to a court record search, Cato has been appointed Jessica Horani as his defense attorney and he is scheduled to appear in court next on March 12.