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June 20, 2021

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Man who pleaded for return of girlfriend’s missing boy now suspected of murder

Rhodes

metro police

A screen grab of a Metro Police video shows the arrest of 27-year-old Terrell Rhodes Tuesday, May 11, 2021. Rhodes is accused of killing his girlfriend’s 2-year-old son, Amari Nicholson, who was reported missing on May 5.

Updated Wednesday, May 12, 2021 | 2:51 p.m.

Click to enlarge photo

This undated photo shows Amari Nicholson, a Las Vegas toddler reported missing on May 5. On May 11, Metro Police, who circulated the image in a missing persons flyer, announced the 2-year-old was dead and booked his mother's boyfriend on a count of murder.

Two days after his girlfriend’s 2-year-old son disappeared from a Las Vegas extended-stay hotel, the couple stood in front of a TV camera, imploring for leads in the boy’s whereabouts. 

During the 28-minute KVVU Channel 5 interview published on YouTube, Terrell Tavoris Rhodes crossed his arms, rubbed his face and stammered while he and his girlfriend, Tayler Nicholson, provided their supposed version of events on what transpired May 5, when Amari was reported missing from the Emerald Suites complex, 3684 Paradise Road.

Rhodes said that Amari was playing with toys about 6 a.m. when a woman, who claimed she was there to pick up her nephew, knocked on the door the day he disappeared. 

Rhodes dialed his girlfriend in Colorado to confirm the supposed arrangement, but by the time he got hold of her, Amari was gone, kidnapped by the woman, the couple said.

In the days that followed, Amari's case garnered widespread community attention, with several other family members, including the boy’s father, providing contrasting stories to media while police and volunteers combed the apartment complex, knocking on doors, searching for the missing boy “night and day.” 

The probe broke open sometime between then and Tuesday when Metro Police announced that Rhodes, 27, had allegedly killed the boy, said Metro Lt. Richard Meyers. 

Arrest Made in Death of Two Year Old

Metro Homicide Lt. Richard Meyers speaks during a news conference at Metro Police headquarters Tuesday, May 11, 2021. Meyers announced an arrest in the homicide of 2-year-old Amari Nicholson. Launch slideshow »

Rhodes — who Meyers alleged fought with officers while being taken into custody, briefly getting hold of an officer’s gun — is being held at the Clark County Detention Center on a count of murder. Additional counts were expected, he added.

Meyers, who left abruptly without taking questions, citing an active investigation, did not share additional details.

Metro announced that Amari’s remains were discovered Wednesday in the 400 block of East Twain Avenue, about 400 feet from the apartment complex. It wasn’t clear how the toddler died. Rhodes appeared before a judge this morning, where he was ordered held without bail, Las Vegas Justice Court records show. 

Rhodes and Nicholson theorized in the TV interview that the family of Amari’s father, who had expressed he wanted to be part of the boy’s life, had “stalked” and kidnapped him. 

Nicholson, who’d traveled on April 30 to tend to her mother following surgery, said that Rhodes had been upset about the trip but didn't further explain the argument, only noting that both had escalated it.

As the tiff continued, Nicholson said, she told Rhodes something to the effect that someone was going to “stop by,” but that she hadn’t said anything about giving anyone permission to take Amari. 

She didn’t expound on why someone would drop by, but the couple claimed in the interview that “miscommunication” caused Rhodes to think that Amari's mother had given someone permission to take her son.

When Rhodes got ahold of Nicholson a couple minutes later, he realized the boy had been "kidnapped." He said he ran downstairs and started looking for the boy around the complex, but he was gone. 

“We’re just devastated and hoping for the best,” Nicholson said in the May 7 interview. “We just want our baby back as soon as possible, in the best condition possible."

“Terrell loves Amari like he’s his own,” Nicholson added. “He’s been the one who’s been taking care of Amari. Amari loves Terrell just as much as he does.”

“I’ve been present,” Rhodes said, theorizing on why the boy’s father would want to kidnap him. “He didn’t want to see him raised by me.” 

If the boy’s aunt, whom he doesn’t know, didn’t take Amari, Rhodes said, “Where’s my son?” 

Amari’s paternal family was active in the boy's search, announcing a $30,000 reward hours before Metro announced the murder investigation. 

In emotional pleas during a Tuesday press conference, two of the boy’s aunts, neither of whom were the woman Nicholson tagged as a kidnapper, said “we don’t want the public to forget about Amari.” 

“It’s six days and there’s still a 2-year-old,” one of them said, crying. “And we still don’t know where he is.”

Asked to comment on Amari’s parents’ relationship, and rumors and allegations about the boy’s disappearance, the sisters declined to “speculate,” noting that they empathized with the mother of a missing child and wanted for Nicholson to “come to us if she needs help.” 

Meyers said that anyone with additional information on the case can contact Metro at 702-828-3521 or via email at [email protected] To remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 702-385-5555 or online at crimestoppesrofnv.com.