CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
People have left dolls and balloons at the Miller Street pedestrian H-1 overpass location where a toddler was thrown to his death.
Mother had state help with child care
Miscommunication put little Cyrus Belt in danger
STORY SUMMARY »
The mother of the 1-year-old boy thrown onto the H-1 freeway has had Child Welfare Services cases involving her three children.
Nancy Asiata Chanco voluntarily gave up her toddler, Cyrus Belt, to foster care in June 2006. State Human Services officials confirmed there are other cases involving her children but could not release them due to the ongoing investigation.
Chanco's other children are ages 5 and 16. Chanco's boyfriend allegedly left the child with 23-year-old Matthew Higa. Higa is accused of throwing the boy from a pedestrian overpass and into freeway traffic.
FULL STORY »
The mother of the boy killed when he was thrown from an overpass onto the state's busiest highway had prior involvement with Child Welfare Services for her three children.
Nancy Asiata Chanco had the toddler voluntarily placed in foster custody for four days in June 2006, said Lillian Koller, director of the Department of Human Services.
The state Department of Health is offering help to residents coping with the killing of 1-year-old Cyrus Belt. Its access line can refer individuals who need help. Call 832-3100 on Oahu and (800) 753-6879 on the neighbor islands.
Chanco has been involved with Child Welfare Services in other instances with her three children. Koller declined to provide information on those cases for now because of the ongoing criminal investigation.
Matthew Higa, 23, is accused of throwing Chanco's toddler, Cyrus Belt, off the pedestrian overpass by Miller Street and into westbound H-1 freeway traffic at about 11:40 a.m. Thursday.
Chanco's boyfriend, identified only as Shane, left the boy with Higa when he left to pick up Chanco for errands, Cyrus' grandfather alleged.
Police said charges are pending against Higa as they continue to investigate and interview witnesses, including Cyrus' mother, her boyfriend and her neighbors.
Higa has been arrested for investigation of two drug offenses, eight misdemeanors and two petty misdemeanors, including a fourth-degree theft.
He was arrested on third-degree negligent homicide in a case involving three cars allegedly racing in August 2004, but he was never charged. Higa has no criminal convictions.
He also has numerous contempt charges stemming from traffic cases and was also arrested on contempt warrants amounting to $2,650.
Chanco's father, Lilo Asiata, said another relative had previously reported Chanco to Child Welfare Services. Asiata said his daughter was "not being around to take care of the baby."
"I failed to heed some of the warnings I saw," said the 62-year-old Makiki resident, "from my daughter and her boyfriend."
Koller said Cyrus was under foster care June 19-23, 2006. More information regarding Chanco's other cases is expected to be released at a later date.
Chanco told the Star-Bulletin on Thursday night that she woke up her father to tell him she was leaving their Iolani Avenue apartment. Asiata would often watch the boy when she was away.
Chanco returned home, and Asiata said he assumed she was there to stay, so he went back to sleep.
"When she left again, she didn't let me know and she didn't wake me up," Asiata said. "She should've woke me up."
Cyrus, who would have turned 2 on Feb. 7, wandered down the street later that morning while Chanco's boyfriend, Shane, was fixing his car in a parking garage.
A police officer found the boy wandering and brought him back to Shane. Shane later left to pick up Chanco to take her to appointments in Iwilei and Ala Moana.
Asiata contends Shane left the child with the suspect before leaving.
"That's the whole reason why I'm around, because I don't want that boy to be put in any kind of situation," Asiata said. "He left the boy with this Matthew kid, without ever waking me up."
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Witnesses allege that Matthew Higa dropped a baby, later identified as 1-year-old Cyrus Belt, from this overpass onto H-1 on Thursday.
At 11:42 a.m., Higa allegedly went to the pedestrian overpass by Miller Street and threw Belt from the overpass. The city Medical Examiner's Office said Belt died from injuries caused by the 30-foot fall.
Higa was arrested on Prospect Street on suspicion of second-degree murder.
Police said he had been at the Queen's Medical Center psychiatric ward and was released as late as last month. Medical center officials had no comment yesterday, citing patient privacy.
Cyrus' father, David Belt, has been in prison for the past year, and found out about his son's death yesterday morning through his sister, the child's aunt.
"He was in shock," she said, adding she wished to remain anonymous. "There's nothing he can really do from prison."
She said Belt was to be released later this year, and hoped to see his son again. She held back tears as she visited a makeshift memorial at the overpass where Cyrus Belt was thrown.
Residents from Waianae to Kailua came to the overpass to pay their respects to Belt, leaving flowers, leis and stuffed animals. Rudy Generalao Jr., 38, of Pearl City left a bouquet of flowers with a card. On it he wrote, "An angel who touched my heart."
"I hear about tragedy every day," said Generalao, a recent University of Hawaii graduate who majored in psychology. "But this, I'm trying to figure it out myself. ... This is a way to heal for myself."
Star-Bulletin reporter Leila Fujimori contributed to this report.