WAILUKU - A Wailuku man and his girlfriend were arrested Wednesday on suspicion of second-degree murder in the death of his 4-year-old son, who sustained severe blunt force trauma to his internal organs, police said.
The boy died after being taken to the Maui Memorial Medical Center emergency room at 10:57 p.m. Tuesday by his father, who reported the child had been found unresponsive in the shower of their residence, police said.
At Hale Kono apartments on Vineyard Street, where the three lived, resident Rossleen Pinheiro said that she saw the man leaving the complex Tuesday night while cradling the boy, who was wrapped in a towel and didn't seem to be moving.
"I thought maybe he was sick," she said. "He wasn't making any noise. The dad kept on looking at him."
Pinheiro and her mother, Ruth Pinheiro, who also lives in the complex, said that they would see the boy, his father and the woman in passing at the complex.
"They're walking so nicely; they're holding the boy's hand so nicely," Rossleen Pinheiro said.
Added Ruth Pinheiro: "He always was dressed nicely. He never was without one shirt or one shorts."
"That's the strange part about it," she said. "Unreal. What would cause something like that? I never know."
She said that the father had said he was studying auto mechanics at the University of Hawaii Maui College when he first moved into the complex a few months ago, but he and the woman were home much of the time lately. A bus would show up to take the boy to preschool, she said.
Possibly a week ago, Ruth Pinheiro said that she heard from someone else that there was a commotion from a "small kind" argument in the second-floor apartment where the boy lived. But she said that she didn't often hear her neighbors in the hollow-tile complex of one-bedroom apartments.
Ruth Pinheiro said that she was surprised to hear from detectives Wednesday that the boy had died.
"To hear that he passed away, I cannot believe it," she said. "That's one big tragedy."
Police said that an initial examination by emergency room doctors revealed the boy had sustained severe blunt force trauma to his internal organs. The boy died early Wednesday at the hospital, police said. An autopsy is pending.
The boy's 31-year-old father and his 27-year-old live-in girlfriend were arrested but had not been charged Wednesday as the investigation continued.
The child's mother lives on Oahu, police said.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.