3-year-old Ethan Ali never stood a chance against his aunt who beat him unmercifully with a belt until he died. Police responding to a 911 call from the Brownsville apartments in Brooklyn, NY, found Ethan unresponsive and limp. His body was covered in bruises and belt marks. Some of his injuries were fresh, but there were signs of old healed wounds on his little body.
Police took 21-year-old Christen “Ninee” Dale into custody on Wednesday but she has not been charged. Dale was reportedly baby-sitting Ethan when he was killed. Ethan’s grandfather, Leroy Ali, told the NY Daily News that he warned Dale and her boyfriend about beating the child with a belt.
“They did it all the time. They beat him and they beat him. He was always bruised,” the grandfather said. “She beat him with the belt. I told her to stop.”
Ethan’s father, Anthony Ali, and his mother, Natasha Ali, a home health aide, learned of their son’s death when they arrived home separately. The distraught mom was placed in a police cruiser and taken to the 67th Precinct station for questioning. Anthony Ali left the scene in a car after a family member told him his son was dead.
Despite the evidence of ongoing child abuse, a children’s health services spokesperson told the Daily News the agency had no prior contact with the Ali family.
“We are working closely with the NYPD on an investigation around the circumstances surrounding this tragic death,” ACS spokeswoman Jill Krauss told the NY Daily News.
Neighbors expressed shock at the news that a child was beaten to death within earshot of them.
“We didn’t hear anything, which is what’s weird,” said Elsie Witty, an upstairs neighbor. “They [police] said they were here because of [Ethan] and they said he could’ve been abused. We asked, ‘Is he OK?’ They said, ‘He’s already gone.’”
“He was a beautiful boy,” she said. “Friendly, lively. He always liked to play.”