A man claiming to be the father of the one year old baby boy who died November 1 said the mother of his seven children has never lifted a hand to any of them, and that police forced him to write the false statement that led to Giltinan Ramangmou’s arrest for allegedly murdering the boy.
“She’s innocent,” he said.
In the early evening of November 1, police responded to a call for help at Ms. Ramangmou’s residence in Liguan Terrace, where they found the boy unresponsive and with rigor mortis set in, according to police reports. Ms. Ramangmou told police earlier in the day the boy fell off the bed, she tended to his injury with ice, then she fell asleep. According to the Guam Police Department, however, police officers noted injuries to the baby inconsistent with a fall.
According to a declaration of probable cause used by the Office of the Attorney General to bring charges against Ms. Ramangmou last week, police reported they interviewed her boyfriend, who said he witnessed her punching the baby while the boy was crying earlier that day.
“The night I was interrogated, the investigator who was interrogating me, they forced me to write a false statement on Giltinan,” Paul John Cruz said in an interview with Kandit.
“They knew I was vulnerable,” he said, explaining that police told him if they arrested him for the boy’s murder, he would go to prison for up to 20 years because a jury would see an arrest against him in 2011 for family violence and surely convict him. Mr. Cruz said the arrest in 2011 was based on false accusations and was never brought to trial because there was no case to be made.
Ms. Ramangmou, he said, has no prior run ins with the law. Kandit cross checked records dating back to its inception in late 2018 and also found no charges filed against either Ramangmou or Cruz.
“They made me write a false statement, word for word,” he said of the investigators in the murder case. “They made me write that I saw my other half punch my son. They made me write that she abuses him, and I know it’s not true.”
He said he did not see Ms. Ramangmou hurt their son, and that police threatened to arrest him for murder if he did not write the account they wanted him to write.
“She’s a good person,” he said, telling Kandit she is a good mother. He said he has not observed or known Ms. Ramangmou to have postpartum depression or any mental health illness, and that she has not abused drugs or alcohol.
Battered Baby Syndrome
According to the magistrate’s report against Mr. Ramangmou, Guam’s chief medical examiner, Dr. Jeffrey Nine, made an “initial assessment” of the deceased baby at the scene, and said his injuries may be consistent with “Battered Baby Syndrome.”
“Battered child syndrome is defined as the collection of injuries sustained by a child as a result of repeated mistreatment or beating,” according to a report by the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. “If a child’s injuries indicate intentional trauma or appear to be more severe than could reasonably be expected to result from an accident, battered child syndrome should be suspected.”
A full investigation, according to the DOJ report, includes obtaining witness statements that can corroborate the child was battered rather than having succumbed to accidents that can explain injuries, like falls. Other corroborative evidence could include the child’s medical record, according to the report.
“An investigator’s failure to collect such information leaves the prosecutor without one of the most important pieces of corroborative evidence for proving an intentional act of child abuse,” the report states.
Mr. Cruz’s witness statement against Ms. Ramangmou is the only publicly-known witness statement corroborating a case of battered child syndrome.
Asked how his son could have sustained the injuries police and the medical examiner noted, Mr. Cruz said his girlfriend told him the baby fell a few times before, though he did not specify how many times.
“When I saw my son’s injuries, it wasn’t that bad,” he said. “It was a bump. I didn’t think anything of it. Yeah, maybe I’m wrong for not getting him medical attention, but that does not make us murderers.”
‘The child fell,’ often is a reason caretakers give to police to explain injuries in child homicide cases, according to the DOJ report. The report calls the caretaker’s mention of possible causes of death as “killer couches,” “killer stairs,” and “killer cribs.” “Abusers frequently use these items in their explanation of a child’s death,” the report states.
A report by the National Institutes of Health states a child suspected of having suffered battered child syndrome should be checked for certain injuries. “Abusive head trauma can be seen as multiple subdural hematomas, inter-hemispheric hemorrhage, hypoxic-ischemic brain injury, and brain edema,” the study states.
Those findings, the study says, should be checked against the explanation the caregiver(s) give to investigators.
“Often a mismatch between the clinical findings and the history, provided by the child caregivers, is a main diagnostic finding among the victims of the Battered Child Syndrome,” the case study states.
Police spokeswoman Berlyn Savella said she believes an autopsy was conducted but does not know yet whether the CME has classified the baby’s death as a homicide, or whether battered baby or child syndrome is included in the autopsy. She said she would speak with GPD’s criminal investigations section investigators Monday to see if those answers can be provided to the public.
Mr. Cruz said he works seven days a week and Ms. Ramangmou was the parent who cared for their seven children; the youngest is a month old and the eldest is six years old, he said. He said he does not believe she abused any of the children while he was at work.
He confirmed no one else lived with them, so there was no one who would have abused their children. He also said that if Ms. Ramangmou is released from jail, he would absolutely trust her to care for their children even when he is at work.
He could not speculate as to the motives of the investigators to force him to write a false statement. He also said he has no knowledge of any personal motives police would have against Ms. Ramangmou.