A Las Vegas boyfriend is under arrest for allegedly killing his girlfriend’s 2-year-old boy. The convoluted case involves a missing child later found dead, reports of a confession, and a bizarre joint television interview where the child’s mother and her since-charged boyfriend blamed other relatives for taking the child.
The Las Vegas Metro Police Department says it received a report on May 5 that the boy at the center of the case, Amari Nicholson, was missing from an apartment complex on Paradise Road near . (Other reports describe the location where the boy disappeared as an extended stay hotel.)
“After the initial investigation, it was clear that the circumstances of Amari’s disappearance were suspicious,” the police said in a statement. Terrell T. Rhodes, 27, of Las Vegas quickly became a “primary suspect,” police said in a news release and in a concomitant press conference.
“As you know, this case started out as a missing persons investigation, and unfortunately, I’m here to tell you today it’s now a homicide,” said LVMPD Lt. Richard Meyers.
According to jail records, Rhodes was booked on a charge of first-degree murder, but Meyers said other charges were pending.
“While the arrest was taking place, Terrell Rhodes chose to fight with police officers, and during the course of that fight was briefly able to retrieve an officer’s firearm,” the lieutenant said. “That incident was quickly deescalated, and Rhodes was transported to the Clark County Detention Center and booked accordingly.”
“This is an active and ongoing investigation,” Meyers said while summing up. He asked any members of the public with information about the case to call or email the LVMPD Homicide Section or, if wishing to remain anonymous, to contact an area Crime Stoppers hotline by phone or online.
Las Vegas Metro Police announced on the afternoon of Wednesday, May 12, that they found Amari’s body in the 400 block of East Twain Road. That address is right around the corner from the complex where the boy, his mother, and her boyfriend were living. Police said the boy’s cause and manner of death would be released by the Clark County Coroner’s Office.
CBS affiliate KLAS-TV said earlier in the case that it was “unclear” whether the little boy’s body had been found. That same report cited “sources” who indicated Rhodes had confessed to killing Amari Nicholson.
In a statement to local Fox affiliate KVVU on Tuesday, May 11, Amari Nicholson’s mother also claimed Rhodes had confessed.
“He killed my baby,” Tayler Nicholson said on Tuesday with reference to Rhodes. “He just confessed. I’m with Metro [Police] now. Will speak with I’m done.”
But before that statement, Tayler Nicholson stood side by side with her since-accused boyfriend to tell KVVU that someone else was involved with the baby’s disappearance.
“We’re devastated and hoping for the best,” Nicholson said in an earlier interview on May 8.
She said she was praying for her son’s safe return and hoping that God was looking out for the boy.
“We just want our baby back as soon as possible in the best condition possible,” Nicholson continued.
Rhodes immediately started pointing fingers at the child’s father and the father’s sister.
“The father’s saying that his sister didn’t come get him, and if that’s really the case, then where is my son?” he asked — referring to Amari Nicholson as his own.
The reporter conducting the interview said there seemed to be “different stories floating around” about what really occurred.
Tayler Nicholson attempted to clear the air by explaining what Rhodes had previously told her.
According to Nicholson, Rhodes said someone claiming to be the sister of the Amari’s father knocked on the door at about 6:00 a.m. While Rhodes was “packing a bag,” the child’s father’s sister allegedly grabbed the child and took off.
Nicholson said she wasn’t present when this supposed chain of events occurred. She said she was “asleep in Colorado” helping her mother recover from surgery after a serious dog bite; Rhodes called her to figure out why the child’s father’s sister was there. Nicholson said she “wasn’t able to answer in time” because she was asleep.
Nicholson named the sister of her child’s father but said she was “not sure” how the woman found her address.
“Why would she come?” the reporter asked.
“I’m not sure,” Nicholson said. “They knew the area where we lived but they never knew the apartment, so they stalked us until they were able to find where the baby was.”
“Why would she take him?” the reporter queried.
“‘Cause the dad wanted to be in the father — in the child’s life,” Rhodes said. “He didn’t want to see him getting raised by me.”
Nicholson said the child’s father was barely or inconsistently involved in the child’s life.
“And then he did this on Wednesday,” Nicholson said — at the time apparently believing the child’s father was involved. “They’re denying everything.”
Rhodes then launched into a lengthy story to explain his version of what went down. We’ve clarified who Rhodes referenced by replacing pronouns with names:
“We had just woke up — I had just fed him breakfast and, um, I was in the room on my phone . . . laying down. He’s in there playing with his toys, and all of a sudden there’s a knock on the door. And it was a woman saying that she was [Tayler’s] baby daddy’s sister. And, she says she’s there to pick up my stepson. I never seen any — any sides of [Tayler’s] baby daddy’s family, so I never — I never recognized her. So, then I go to proceed to — okay — I’m gonna pack him a bag up — pack some of his belongings, and when that happens, I turn around to call [Tayler] to tell her if this is — are — was this really prearranged. And as I’m doing that, [the sister] says she don’t need anything for my stepson. They got everything they need for him. And — basically — just took off.”
“But you didn’t know her though, correct?” the reporter asked from off camera. “You’ve never seen her?”
“No,” Rhodes said.
“Did you not know this person you’re letting take Amari away?” the reporter asked.
Rhodes said he vaguely recalled his girlfriend saying someone would be picking up the child at some point.
“But I never knew who,” he added.
Nicholson chimed in.
“I never said anybody was coming to get anybody,” Nicholson claimed. She then suggested someone else “planted” the concept into her boyfriend’s head that someone else would be coming to pick up the child. Later, however, she agreed with a reporter’s question that she had indeed told Rhodes that “someone” would be coming to pick up the child.
Rhodes then claimed Amari’s father’s sister — who allegedly appeared at his door asking for the child — told him that Tayler Nicholson gave her permission to take the child.
Nicholson said she hadn’t given any such permission to anyone. She said Amari’s father abused her while she was pregnant and reasserted that the father’s family “never knew where we lived.” She then complained that the child’s father was “smiling” in news reports about the child’s disappearance without playing a meaningful role in the child’s life. But then she said the child’s father had asked to see the child around the holidays.
“I’m not going to send my son to a complete stranger,” Nicholson said with reference to the boy’s father.
Rhodes claimed he had “looked around the complex” for the missing child after the sister allegedly took the boy.
Nicholson said she was in “panic mode” when she realized Amari was gone. She also claimed the police didn’t launch an immediate investigation. She said she rushed back home from Colorado to try to ascertain what occurred.
“If anybody’s got him, bring him back,” Rhodes pleaded.
The reporter asked Nicholson what would happen if people started to point the finger at Rhodes.
“It’s inaccurate,” she responded at the time. “It’s a bunch of strangers just reading comments and not understanding the situation, not understanding the background, and just trying to put their two cents into it when it’s all inaccurate. All this negative, hateful energy of pointing fingers at me and him can be put into trying to find our baby and bring him home instead of causing more drama. I mean — we’re hurting enough. We’re all distraught over this; we’re a complete mess — breaking down.”
Nicholson then attempted to clarify whether she really told Rhodes someone else would be along to pick up Amari. Nicholson said she argued with Rhodes about leaving to care for her mother in Colorado. That’s when Nicholson said she told Rhodes that someone would pick up her child. She said she made the comment when they both were “upset” in an effort to set Rhodes off — or, in her words, she was “poking the bear.” She said the only person she would have allowed to take Amari was her grandmother. But she reiterated that she wasn’t specific about when — or if — that would really occur.
The reporter indicated that the situation was befuddling.
Nicholson admitted that the story was “confusing” and made it sound like she and Rhodes were “lying.”
“He was upset that I left him,” Nicholson said with reference to her trip to Colorado.
She then pivoted to the relationship between her boyfriend and the child he’s now accused of murdering.
“Terrell loves Amari like it’s — like he’s his own,” Nicholson continued. “He’s been the one who’s been taking care of Amari; Amari loves Terrell just as much.”
Nicholson would tolerate no criticism her boyfriend.
“At this point, you can’t sit here and say anything negative for a man to be taking care of another man’s baby,” she said. “He never handed the baby off to anybody.”
“He’s a complete mess over this,” she said of Rhodes.
“I just want him back where he need to be, back with us,” Rhodes said. “This is not a finger pointing game. Our son is really missing.”
Police are pointing the finger at Rhodes, even though they’re staying mum on the official details.
According to court records, a Las Vegas Justice Court case against Rhodes commenced on May 11, but no criminal complaint had been filed as of the time of this writing. The defendant has not entered a plea. A status check is scheduled for Monday, May 17, to see if prosecutors are ready to move forward. The judge overseeing the case did find probable cause that a crime had been committed.
Watch the full KVVU interview with the child’s mother and with the accused killer boyfriend below.
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