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‘Can you overdose from Xanax?’: Affidavit reveals damning Google searches, video of 5-year-old saying ‘bye’ to grandpa on FaceTime before ‘charred’ remains found in shopping bag, fireplace

Alexus Nelson, Maha Li Hobbs

Alexus Nelson, Maha Li Hobbs (Colorado Bureau of Investigation)

A more detailed supplemental affidavit in the child abuse resulting in death case against a 27-year-old Colorado mother alleges that she googled “Can you overdose from Xanax?” and “Can you overdose from melatonin?” the day before she made her 5-year-old daughter Maha Li Hobbs say “bye” to her grandfather on a FaceTime call.

Aurora Police Chief Art Acevedo expressed confidence late last week that there’s a “high probability” murder charges will be filed at some point in the case against Alexus Tanielle Nelson, and the latest details of the Arapahoe County, Colo., investigation shows why he said so — even though authorities had not yet positively identified the child victim’s remains.

According to the Aurora Police affidavit, Hobbs’ grandmother Ashiya called for a welfare check on May 30 after she was allegedly told by the defendant that she’d given up the girl for adoption. Cops indicated that it wasn’t difficult to confirm that there was no evidence that the organization “Adoptions with Love” had facilitated a “closed adoption” and no evidence of adoption records at the Arapahoe County Department of Human Services.

Nelson’s lie only became more elaborate when she was confronted about it, the affidavit said, leading to her arrest on the initial charge of attempting to influence a public servant.

“After informing her that Adoptions with Love had no record of any adoptions, she changed her story and stated that she had contacted Adoptions with Love and they then provided her with a list of other adoption agencies. Through this list, she came into contact with a woman that she identified as ‘Janet Dunn,'” the affidavit said. “Alexus stated that Janet facilitated the adoption of [Maha Li] to an unidentified couple. Alexus was unable to provide the name of the agency that Janet worked for, nor was she able to provide any contact information for her or paperwork related to the adoption.”

The defendant then claimed that she had “either deleted or threw away all documents related to the adoption as she did not want her family to locate [Maha Li],” the affidavit added.

Then the defendant allegedly made a crucial error.

“She stated that she believed she had emails from Janet in her deleted inbox and volunteered to provide me [Det. Swartz] access to her phone,” court documents said. “After I searched through her mail, I was unable to find any such emails related to the adoption. Alexus also allowed me and Detective C. Roberts to search through the pictures of her phone. It became immediately apparent that that there were no pictures of in her phone. I then seized the phone.”

A May 30 search of this device allegedly revealed the May 2 Google searches “Can you overdose from melatonin?” and “Can you overdose from Xanax?” — which allegedly occurred the day before Nelson made her daughter say goodbye to her grandparents in videos. That May 3 was the last time the 5-year-old was seen alive by her family members.

A building maintenance worker told cops that he conducted a routine inspection at the apartment on May 5. He noted that the defendant yelled at him when he tried to look inside a locked room.

“When he entered, they found that the door to room was connected to the bathroom door on the opposite side of the hall, preventing it from opening. He heard sounds inside that appeared to be from a television,” the affidavit said. “When he cut the string, he found the door the room was locked. Alexus then began yelling at him via a baby monitor to leave so he exited the residence.”

Cops said that the detective who searched Nelson’s phone found videos in her camera roll of the victim appearing to say goodbye to her grandparents.

Authorities observed that the South Elkhart Way apartment did not look like a place where a child was living.

“While looking through the house, [the girl’s] room was completely empty and the carpet was extremely dirty with various stains of unknown origin. There was a notable lack of any children’s items in the apartment,” the affidavit said.

Maha Li’s grandfather Mikus told police that the defendant “rarely answers” when he calls her and that it was rarer still for her to reach out. The defendant’s mother and Alexus’ sister Mercedez both provided similar details about Nelson’s lack of communication, cops said.

The grandfather “stated that he had also received a Facetime call from Alexus and on 05/03/23.”

“He stated that the call was very short and that Alexus appeared to be directing [the victim] what to say (‘tell grandad hi…tell him you love him…tell him bye,'” the affidavit said.

The girl’s grandmother said she received a substantially similar video, wherein Alexus Nelson allegedly coached her daughter to say goodbye.

“She sent me the video which shows Alexus and Alexus directs to say ‘hi and goodbye’ to Ashiya,” the affidavit said.

The affidavit further said that Nelson’s mother received a text from the defendant, saying: “My rent has gone up again so rehoming and I’ve been looking at fostering.”

Highlighting the defendant’s lack of communication with family even further, authorities revealed that Maha Li Hobbs’ grandmother had no idea that Nelson was pregnant until the girl was born.

“Meet [Maha] shes 35 weeks, 5.2lb born yesterday morning at 11:48 am at 19 1⁄2 inches in length. You would have known about her grand entrance sooner but my original plan was to have her adopted by a family more suitable to provide for her without struggling. Though I still belive open adoption is the best move for her to never need for anything, and myself so I may finish school, have a career with benefits, and my family nearby before staring a family, shes here and un-give-up-able. So meet your first grandbaby!”

Police said that they discovered grisly evidence of “charred” child remains in plastic bag inside a shopping bag in a utility closet at the apartment on May 31.

“Upon opening the door to the closet, [Detective Jenkins] immediately noticed what he recognized to be the distinct odor of decomposing flesh. The closet was filed with various children’s items that appeared to belong to [the missing girl],” the affidavit said. “After removing boxes from the closet, he found a large shopping bag that contained a plastic bag inside. It was at this point that I [Detective Swartz] came outside and also noticed the strong odor of decomposition. As Detective Jenkins opened the bag, the odor became overpowering. Inside the bag, I observed what appeared to be charred human remains.”

“Inside the bag appeared to bones as well as what looked to be a rib cage,” authorities said. “The size of the remains appeared to be consistent with that of [Maha Li Hobbs].

Then investigators allegedly found even more evidence that the victim was burned in a fireplace in the living room.

“Based on the charred appearance of the remains, detectives then conducted a search of the fireplace located in the living room adjacent to the balcony. The fireplace appears to have been used recently based on the presence of various burnt matter on the floor of the fireplace,” documents said. “While searching through this matter, detective’s found bone fragments as well as a bone that appeared to be either a rib or shoulder blade.”

Authorities had only confirmed that the remains were human, but they said that remains were consistent with the missing girl’s size and that they were evidently her remains.

“On 05/31/23, during a search warrant service of Alexus’ residence, the charred remains of her daughter were found hidden in a closet next to [the victim’s] toys. Based on the state of the remains, as well as fragments found in the fireplace, it is apparent that Alexus attempted to destroy [the victim’s] remains by burning them,” cops concluded. “It is clear that Alexus placed in a situation that resulted in her death. She then attempted to hinder the resulting investigation by lying about an adoption and burning the remains.”

This detail explains why Chief Acevedo said ahead of DNA confirmation last Thursday that “we believe that we actually found her,” referring to Maha Li Hobbs as “our beautiful little girl” and “our missing child.”

As of Monday, Nelson remains behind bars at the Arapahoe County Detention Center on a $100,000 bond, jails records show.

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.