Updated at 2:25 p.m., Friday, January 18, 2008
Mother denies leaving boy with suspect
Advertiser Staff and News Services
Nancy Asiata Chanco also said her son, Cyrus Belt, was wrapped in a blanket, according to the videotape. She believes her son was unconscious or dead before he was thrown.
She also said she never left him in the care of the suspect in the death, Matthew M. Higa.
Chanco said Cyrus was an outgoing, talkative child who probably opened the door yesterday for Higa, the 23-year-old accused of throwing the child off an H-1 pedestrian overpass.
"He stole my baby," Chanco said, crying.
Chanco said she left Cyrus with her boyfriend, who then put him in their Iolani Avenue apartment with Chanco's father. Chanco said her father was sleeping when Cyrus was taken from the apartment sometime before 11:40 a.m.
Higa and Chanco are neighbors.
She said she was scared of Higa, because he used drugs and acted oddly.
She added he would repeatedly asked Chanco to "hold the baby."
Even so, Chanco says she never left Cyrus with Higa alone.
Police sources reported yesterday that Higa occasionally babysat Cyrus.
"I would never, ever let that murderer watch my baby," Chanco said.
Chanco also said the door to her apartment where Cyrus was with her father was not locked yesterday, but the screen door was. She suspects Cyrus, who will turn 2 on Feb. 7, opened the door for Higa. She said her child loved to talk to people.
The uncle of a boy said Nancy Chanco was too upset to identify the child at the medical examiner's office today.
Ron Asiata, the child's uncle, said he was going to the medical examiner's office to identify the toddler.
"He's my nephew. I love him with all my heart and he was killed in a violent death," Asiata said. "I'm really upset about it."
Asiata said he was going to identify the toddler because his sister and father weren't in any shape to see the boy's body.
Ron Asiata was at the mother's apartment earlier today and left with a photo of the boy.
Higa, a Roosevelt High School graduate, was in police custody in connection with the death of the child. Higa lived in the same apartment complex as the toddler's family and had babysat the toddler, neighbors said.
The medical examiner has not released the identity of the boy, but police interviewed his mother.
Police are trying to determine how Higa allegedly got the boy.
Roy Seminuk, a neighbor at the apartment building, said both Higa and the toddler's mother moved in to the eight-unit complex a couple of months ago.
Seminuk described Higa as a loner. He said Higa would walk around aimlessly and climb up and down the stairs of the three-floor building.
Other neighbors said they would hear Higa arguing with his father, who lived in the same unit as his son. They heard things being thrown around, the neighbors said.
One neighbor, who asked not to be identified, said Chanco "did take care of her child. She really loved her child."