This is part three of the story of a heartbroken mother who holds out hope that her son’s body will one day be discovered. The boy’s father, Anthony Dibiah, has been charged with murder.
WABASH —Nakota Kelly knew something bad was going to happen to him at his dad’s house that weekend.
“Oh, I’m dead,” the 10-year-old boy told his mother days before he was to spend the weekend at his father’s apartment in Indianapolis. “Don’t expect me to come home. My dad is going to kill me.”
The boy's words were prophetic. Prosecutors say Anthony Dibiah killed his son on July 18, 2020, during a court-ordered weekend visit.
A father's rage
Nakota had hung up the phone on his father, according to court records. Dibiah would still be angry about it that weekend during Nakota's visit, the boy told his mother.
Hayley Kelly, Nakota's mom, reported it to Department of Child Services caseworkers on July 14, 2020. The caseworker would later tell a homicide detective about it, but nothing happened to stop the visit before that weekend.
Dibiah had another reason to be angry: Nakota's mother let their son play baseball, which meant his visit with his father would start a few hours late.
Dibiah, she said, was welcome to attend Nakota's game, but he was unwilling or unable to make the two-hour drive from Indianapolis to Wabash.
Dibiah told her he wanted his son at the time set by the judge. He threatened to call the police and take her to court.
“If I don’t get my son today, I will take necessary actions including involving the police,” Dibiah said in a text to Kelly sent at 10:01 a.m. July 17, 2020.
Kelly texted back that she and Nakota would meet him at 9:30 p.m. at their usual drop off spot in Kokomo, about halfway between both of their apartments.
“Court order is 6 p.m.,” Dibiah said in a text to Kelly sent at 11:06 a.m. July 17, 2020. “If I don’t see my son at 6 p.m. I will call the police and my lawyer will file citation against you.”
In the past, Kelly said she gave in to Dibiah’s demands. She stood up to him this time, she said, believing it was best for Nakota. Baseball was important to him. She wanted him to play, even though mother and son both knew Dibiah would be angry.
Dibiah was known to take his anger out on his son, Kelly said. Dibiah would yell, he'd hit, he'd make Nakota stand in a corner, but in the past Department of Child Services caseworkers found Dibiah never left a serious bruise or mark on his son. Caseworkers never found enough evidence to substantiate abuse, records provided by Kelly show.
Kelly pulled into Kokomo about 9:15 p.m. on that Friday and handed her son over to his father. She said there was no sign of how angry Dibah had become. There was no sign, she said, that this would be the last time she'd see Nakota alive.
Dibiah's rage grew overnight and exploded the next evening, July 18, 2020, when court documents say he smothered Nakota to death and did something to his son's body that left blood and brain tissue in a bathroom of his Indianapolis apartment.
Dibiah tried to get away, driving across Indiana, Illinois and Missouri before police caught him about 4 p.m. on July 19.
Prosecutors say Dibiah got rid of Nakota’s body somewhere along that 375-mile trip. The boy’s remains have not been found.
“I just killed my son!”
Kelly thinks often of her last phone conversation with her son.
The call happened on July 18 at 7:36 p.m. Nakota told her he had eaten Lunchables and was watching YouTube on his phone. They said I love you and hung up.
“And I was expecting him to be home at 9:30 p.m. Sunday. I talked to him (Nakota) over the weekend. He seemed fine.”
It was a typical call on a typical weekend visit with his dad. There was still no sign, she said, of the kind of rage that would drive a father to do the unthinkable.
About two hours after that phone call with his mom, according to a probable cause affidavit, Dibiah made a frantic phone call to a relative in Texas.
"I just killed my son!" Dibiah screamed repeatedly into the phone, according to the affidavit.
When asked why, records say Dibiah blamed the boy’s mother because she "had given him a very hard time and had cost him a lot of money in court."
The relative called the police.
According to the affidavit, several unidentified Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers went to Dibiah’s apartment at 10:11 p.m. on July 18, 2020, to check on the boy’s welfare.
Police knocked but no one answered.
The officers heard someone inside and saw Dibiah’s Jeep Patriot parked in the lot. Police did not go inside.
“Officers determined they did not have reason to force entry and they left the building,” Detective Jonathon Schultz wrote in the affidavit.
Officers missed a chance
“That's not how I would have done it, especially when the life of a 10-year-old child is in question,” said Steve DeBoard, a retired Indianapolis police officer and retired criminal justice professor.
IMPD officers could have forced their way into the apartment given that they had been told a child’s life was in danger, DeBoard said.
Police could have forced their way in, DeBoard said, given that a witness had told a child was being hurt or killed inside the apartment. IMPD’s General Orders on "exigent circumstances" say officers can force entry into a dwelling to prevent injury, stop the destruction of evidence, prevent an escape, or during the hot pursuit of a fleeing suspect.
DeBoard said the officers could have called a homicide detective and asked for advice or they could have guarded the apartment to make sure no one leaves while they ask a judge for a search warrant,
“I'm not trying to put down any of the officers for what they did or didn't do,” DeBoard said. “What I am saying is that there are alternatives that they could have looked for, that I wish they would have looked for and considered.”
Lt. Shane Foley, a spokesman for IMPD, said a supervisor told the officers on scene that they did not have probable cause to enter the home and told them to leave.
That supervisor, Foley said, has since retired. Foley refused to release the names of any of the officers involved. They are not named in the court records.
Court records don't tell us if Nakota was still alive when the officers left without going inside.
The records show that Dibiah stayed busy long after midnight on July 19. Surveillance cameras captured Dibiah’s white Jeep leaving and returning to the apartment complex several times between 2:27 a.m. and 7:44 a.m., according to the affidavit.
At 8:30 a.m., records say the video showed Dibiah go in and out of his apartment three times loading something into the back of his Jeep. On the second trip, the affidavit said video captured Dibiah tossing something into the apartment’s trash bin.
Later that morning, the affidavit said Dibiah called a friend to borrow a suitcase and again admitted that he killed his son.
Dibiah, according to the affidavit, told that friend the only details released so far as to how Nakota died.
"Anthony said he use a bag to suffocate his son until he stopped breathing," Schultz wrote in the affidavit. "Anthony told (his friend) he then took his son to the bathroom to make sure he was dead and he has now dumped the body."
At 11:43 a.m. on July 19, 2020, the friend called police.
Officers returned to Dibiah's apartment. This time they got the keys from the manager.
Dibiah was gone, but inside the apartment, court records say the officers found blood, hair and brain matter.
‘My son is in heaven’
Kelly first learned her son might be in danger when she got a text from Dibiah at 2:01 p.m. on July 19, 2020.
"Sometimes I hear voices. My son is in Heaven.”
She texted back: “What.”
Kelly had no idea that the police had been at Dibiah’s apartment that morning. She didn’t know yet about the blood and the hair and the brain matter.
She thought Dibiah was kidding, messing with her.
“He didn't respond back and then my stomach just got all tightened and I was scared,” Kelly said.
Kelly freaked out and called some people she trusts, who then called the police.
Detectives, meanwhile, were tracking Dibiah’s phone as he drove through Indiana, Illinois and into Missouri, according to the affidavit.
At 4 p.m., a Missouri State Highway Patrol officer stopped Dibiah's Jeep in Macon County, about 375 miles west of his Indianapolis apartment.
There were bloodstains in the back of his Jeep, the affidavit said, but no sign of Nakota.
Dibiah didn’t talk to the police. He hasn't made any public statements.
Contacted through Marion County Jail officials, Dibiah declined WRTV’s request for an interview. Dibiah's attorney, Brian K. Lamar, also declined comment.
Dibiah remains in the Marion County Jail awaiting trial for murder. He is scheduled to go on trial on Sept. 20.
Michael Leffler, a spokesman for Prosecutor Ryan Mears said there are no updates in the case and declined to say anything about the investigation.
Kelly said she wants the prosecutor to seek the death penalty. Prosecutors have declined to say if they are considering filing death penalty charges.
Kelly wants justice. She wants to have a funeral for Nakota. She wants a grave that she can visit.
She believes Dibiah was angry, so angry that he killed their son.
“I think, I think he planned it. I don't think that it just came over him" she said. "I think he kind of, he found out that I was sticking up for myself and he couldn't hurt me no more. And so that he took the only thing that mattered to me. One of the things that mattered most to me.”
Contact WRTV reporter Vic Ryckaert at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter: @vicryc.