Service held to mourn Adrian Peterson’s slain 2-year-old son

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, October 23, 2013

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — About 100 people turned out at a Sioux Falls church to mourn the slain son of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, hours after a judge increased bond for the man accused in the 2-year-old’s death.

About a dozen family members attended the service for Tyrese Ruffin at First Evangelical Free Church on Tuesday night, along with members of the public.

Sara Traub, 37, a mother of three, said she came to show her “love and support for friends going through the worst of the worst situations.”

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“People have a need to come together and acknowledge that this happened,” she said. “I think there’s healing in the acknowledgment. It’s part of the healing. People don’t want to mourn in isolation. There’s healing in togetherness.”

The funeral for Tyrese was held Oct. 16. Peterson attended. Paul Doohen, Tyrese’s uncle, described the Tuesday night event as “a time to express condolences and sympathy to (mother) Ashley and the family, since it was a private funeral.”

The Rev. Randy Anderson, pastor at First Evangelical Free Church, said a gathering of family and friends at such times is important.

“There is a surprising amount of comfort and encouragement in this, more than you think,” he said. “I wouldn’t speculate why it works that way, but it does.”

Joseph Patterson, 27, the boyfriend of Tyrese’s mother, was indicted late last week on second-degree murder and manslaughter charges. He is accused of assaulting Tyrese on Oct. 9 while the two were alone in a Sioux Falls apartment. The boy was hospitalized with severe head injuries and died two days later.

Patterson initially was jailed on charges of aggravated assault and aggravated battery. He made his first court appearance Tuesday since being indicted on the new charges, via videoconference from jail, and his bond was increased from $750,000 to $1 million.

Patterson is to be arraigned on Monday. Defense attorney Rim Rensch says his client is “absolutely and totally not guilty.”