- March 21, 1991
A Grave Memorial
March 21, 1991, New Zealand
authorities received a phone call from
a woman who stated that
had just returned home to find her two year
old daughter dead. Claiming
she had been away for a couple of hours,
Tania Witika, the mother of
child, called from a video store.
The ambulance driver,
Smith, found a child
laying dead in the fetal position.
Delcelia Witika was laying on a
of filthy plastic which was on her bed. On
her bottom, feet and hands
what appeared to be scars from having been
Delcelia had bruises
of the rest of her
body and was terribly emaciated. Martin
asked Eddie Smith about the
and was told that Delcelia had fallen into
a hot bath a few weeks
and that Eddie had not taken her to the
hospital to have the burns
The police were
to charge only Eddie
Smith and Tania Witika was to be a witness
against him. Later, it was
that Tania was guilty of not taking
Delcelia for proper medical
Tania clammed that Eddie had been beating
her as well as abusing
that when she tried to help Delcelia, he
would beat her.
photos have proven this to
be one of the
worst cases of child abuse ever. Delcelia
was used as a punching bag,
blood was splattered throughout the house
on carpets and walls.
was a pool of blood on the plastic that
replaced sheets and
a blanket on Delcelia's
she had vomited during her final night was found
down the bed post. Delcelia's neck showed signs of
her mouth was in terrible shape with some of her teeth
and upper lip having been torn away from her gums and
she had scars on
her scalp where the hair had been pulled completely
the night that Delcelia died,
Tania claimed that
Eddie had held a knife to her throat and threatened
to kill her if she
did not go to a party with him. A video provided as
that Tania was partying and having a good time with
Eddie at this party
while her daughter lay at home, dying.
the investigation went on, charges
to include the willful mistreatment of Delcelia from
the months of July
1990 to the month of October 1990 causing
failing to provide proper, needed medical care for
the burns which were
discovered to have been the result of placing
Delcelia into hot water,
murder and manslaughter.
first, Tania told the police that
she alone was
responsible for the death of her daughter. After
finding out that
had suffered through massive sexual abuse, she said
that Eddie was the
one who had been responsible for most of the
injuries. Tania pleaded
guilty to all charges stating that she suffered from
Syndrome" at the hands of Eddie Smith. Eddie blamed
Eddie Smith pleaded guilty to the first three
charges but had the nerve
to plead not guilty to the others.
trial, Pathologist Jane
that Delcelia had died of Peritonitus which was
caused by the blows she
took to her abdomen during the abuse she suffered.
Jane Vuleic also
that Delcelia suffered from severe malnutrition,
burns to 15 percent of
her body, a broken jaw and many other injuries.
Pathologist at the trial, Jane
Vuletic told the
court that Delcelia died of peritonitis caused by
blows to her abdomen.
She said Delcelia also suffered from severe
malnutrition, a broken jaw,
and burns to 15 per cent of her body and many other
December of 1991, Eddie Smith and
were each sentenced to ONLY 16 years
for the torture,
and death of Delcelia. A very small price to pay for
the life of a
were sentenced to 16-year prison
would serve their full sentence. Tania served only
2/3 of her sentence,
Eddie would not serve much more. Tania was paroled
in September of 2002
and Eddie in February of 2003. Delcelia was only
able to be paroled in
Father's fury over
October 14, 2004
father of a toddler killed more
than a decade
ago is angry that he wasn't told her killer had been
released and was
in his neighborhood.
Smith served 10 years for the
of Delcelia Witika and was freed two years ago.
Corrections Department says it
did its job.
and story will always
as one of New Zealand's worst cases of child abuse.
and his partner, Delcelia's
mother Tania Witika,
were convicted in 1992 of her violent death. They
served two-thirds of
their sentences for manslaughter.
days ago, Delcelia's father
Peter Lafaele found
out that Smith had been quietly released two years
ago and was living a
few kilometres away.
was outraged...there was no
feeling that can express
how angry I was," said Lafaele.
was pretty much 15 minutes
away...and I've got
a lot of friends and family that work that way... it
was lucky I didn't
bang into the fellah."
was arrested in South Auckland
with arson last week. He will be back before the
courts early next year
and has since been freed on bail.
an explanation about
why he wasn't
told of Smith's release.
took a big part of my life and
he's still taking
a big part of my life...I'm not going to rest till I
see justice to
Corrections Department has a
system where victims of crime can apply to be told
when someone is
from jail. But Corrections says in this case there
were no registered
so there was no one for the department to tell that
Smith had been set
April of 2003, Tania Witika
decided that she wanted
to be a social worker and work with young victims of
going as far as to quit her job in order to do so.
New Zealand Social
Minister, Steve Maharey has doubts that Tania will
ever get to work
domestic violence victims.
no one is able to stop Tania
for a job with any Social Service Agency, Maharey
says it would be
if she got front line work. He compared this
scenario to that of a
having been convicted of murder, able to practice
"I can't imagine it
I just can't
imagine anybody in their right mind hiring
Who would take the risk of
Rich had this to
say about it"
"It would be a major leap
faith for an employer
to offer her a significant position as a
social worker. Horrendous
don't necessarily train a person to deal
with other horrendous life
2005, Tania married and in 2008
she had another
baby. Custody of the baby was taken by Child, Youth
and Family before
was even born. The baby and Tania were under 24 hour
the birth. The baby was allowed to go home with the
father while Tania
would have to undergo psychological assessment and
would have to prove
to CYF that she was a fit parent. Tania, who now
goes by the last name
of Hopping, had no comment about the situation.
Death occurred in
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