Hunt­ing Roma Joseph’s killers

South Waikato News - - Your Health - PHILLIPA YALDEN

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.

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