LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The I-Team has learned there were concerns about 2-year-old Amari Nicholson’s safety, leading up to his death.
Sources tell us within the past year, there was at least one report made to Child Protective Services (CPS), alleging abuse. The agency looked into the allegation but closed the case without taking further action.
We reached out to CPS, but a spokesman says state law prohibits them from discussing specific individuals.
Now, Terrell Rhodes is accused of killing the toddler.
Carrie Howard, Amari’s maternal grandmother, told the I-Team Monday loved ones had been concerned about the safety of the child since his mother started dating Rhodes last year.
Vanessa Murphy: “Do you think if CPS had investigated more after these calls you’re saying the family made, do you think Amari would be safe right now?”
Howard: “Yes, ma’am. He’d be just fine.”
On Tuesday, sources told us Rhodes confessed to killing Amari. The 27-year-old appeared in court for a murder charge Wednesday.
“We would note that the defendant lied for approximately one week, regarding covering up the murder committed against this child,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Tim Fattig said in court.
On May 7, Tayler Nicholson, Amari’s mother, and Rhodes talked with 8 News Now’s Joe Moeller. Rhodes was watching the toddler while his mom was out of town. He claimed a woman, calling herself an aunt, showed up to take the child.
“That’s who I thought was there to pick up Amari, as I’m … to call my girlfriend and pack his bag at the same time, she says that they already got everything they need for him, and I don’t need to pack anything, he’ll be fine,” Rhodes recalled during the interview. “And she … she proceeded out the door.”
But Metro Police say Rhodes later admitted to hitting Amari numerous times, which caused his death on May 5, two days before that interview, and then hid the child’s body.
According to the Clark County District Attorney’s Office, evidence includes blood on a wall and soiled child’s clothing.
Detectives say they knew Rhodes was their primary suspect while he continued to give his version to 8 News Now.
“What’s really sickening is that people are making assumptions, thinking that I had something to with it, that I have her manipulated in some way,” said Rhodes, “which, that’s sickening to me, also cause he love us. We ain’t never do anything like that to him.”
Police say he fought with officers and grabbed an officer’s gun when they went to arrest him. He will likely face charges in connection with that incident.
The I-Team has also learned Rhodes was released from prison last year for robbery and burglary convictions.