Hunting Roma Joseph’s killers
The daughter of a Waikato woman violently killed in her own home is urging those responsible to come forward.
It’s been 122 days since Roma Joseph was killed inside her twobedroom rental home on a small street of retirees in central Tirau. Her Little Street house was then purposely set alight.
‘‘They need to come forward and own up to it so we can all put our minds at ease,’’ daughter Kirsty Joseph said as police released new information into the case on Thursday night.
Almost every day since, one of Roma’s 19 grandchildren has asked where their ‘‘Nanny Ruma‘‘ is, Joseph said. ‘‘It’s been hard, just not being able to talk to her, she was like our counsellor. We need to catch whoever has done it and get justice for her.’’
On Thursday night’s Police Ten 7 programme, new clues that could lead to unlocking the case were revealed.
‘‘Roma was a tiny woman in her late 50s,’’ Detective Senior Sergeant Matt Cranshaw said.
‘‘She was violently killed in her own home in the early hours of the morning. Those responsible for this cowardly and brutal murder need to be held to account.’’
Police were now looking to identify a person captured on CCTV footage walking past the
‘‘They need to come forward and own up to it so we can all put our minds at ease.’’ Kirsty Joseph
Caltex on the main street of Tirau around the time of the homicide, he said.
The 58-year-old grandmother was seriously assaulted before the fire was lit in the living area of her house between 3 and 3.30am on May 1.
At 3.18am, a person was captured walking north along State Highway 1 past the service station - a four-minute walk from Roma’s home.
‘‘Police are not suggesting this person was involved in Roma’s death. The fact that they were in Tirau at the critical time may mean they can provide information that is useful to this inquiry.’’
Neighbours earlier said they woke to hear a series of thumps and noises coming from Roma’s weatherboard home.
Shortly after, two people were seen leaving the house. Then it went up in flames.
‘‘One person was seen walking along Little St away from the address, another was seen up by the front door,’’ Cranshaw said.
A silver four-door sedan was seen reversing out of the driveway and was last seen heading towards Bear St.
‘‘It’s really important that people come forward with any information they have whatsoever on the silver sedan, or the people seen at and near Roma’s place or on State Highway 1 on the morning of May 1.
‘‘We urge those people with information about this shocking death to do the right thing and tell us what they know.’’
Roma, who was also known as Ruma Midwood, was one of 13 children who grew up in Rotorua, mainly in the state system after losing her mother at the age of two.
After a ’’pretty rough’’ childhood’’ in Rotorua, Roma spent her teens in Mangakino before moving to Cambridge, where she worked as a cleaner.
Wanting to be closer to her four children and 19 grandchildren, Joseph said her mother moved into the Little Street home about seven years ago - not far from the mother of six’s base in Putaruru.
She had a cat and enjoyed living on the street of mainly retirees, regularly popping across to the pensioner flats to see close friends.
‘‘She was a clean freak. And she was fussy. She liked to have things her way,’’ Joseph said.
‘‘She was just been dealing with all of our problems, helping us out. That’s what she loved to do.’’
Once a week, she took the bus to Hamilton where her 38-yearold daughter was having treatment for breast cancer.
Losing their ‘‘supportive and caring’’ mother had been difficult, Joseph said.
Joseph had moved in with her mother and was living between the Little St house and her partner’s home in Putaruru. They were hoping to get Roma a house in Putaruru after her rental was put on the market.
She remembers the last time she saw her mother, at home on the Saturday fussing over a feed for her aunty, who was visiting for the weekend.
‘‘I went to her house to grab a couple of things and her sister was there having tea. I pretty much said I’ll see you later.’’
On Monday morning, before dawn broke, Joseph got a call from her brother.
‘‘He’d heard on the news about the fire and we went to see how Mum was. We went straight over. I was shattered, my heart fell out of my chest.’’
The only things the 31-yearold could salvage from the burntout house was her mother’s amethyst rock, a 21st key and some family photographs.
Anyone who may have information can call the investigation team direct on 0800 766 211. Information can also be left anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.