Case Update: Nakota Kelly’s Mom Speaks for the First Time Since Her Son’s Murder

Nakota Kelly.

Hayley Kelly, the mother of missing ten-year-old Nakota Kelly, has spoken publicly for the first time about her son’s disappearance and death.

Although his remains have not been recovered, Nakota, who has been missing since July 18, is presumed dead due to the gruesome crime scene investigators found in the Indianapolis apartment belonging to his father, 37-year-old Anthony Dibiah, along with the fact that his father confessed by phone to two individuals on the evening of July 18 and on July 19 that he had killed his son. 

The week prior to his disappearance, Nakota reportedly hung up on his father during a telephone argument. When informed he would be spending the weekend with Anthony, Nakota told his mother, “Oh, I’m dead. Don’t expect me to come home,” adding, “My dad is going to kill me.”

Hayley informed Nakota’s Department of Child Services caseworker about the comment, but DCS did nothing, as usual. I previously wrote about Hayley’s fight in family court to protect Nakota from his abuser. 

Hayley Kelly with photo of Nakota
Hayley Kelly holding up a photo of her son.
(Kelly Wilkinson/IndyStar)

Recently, Hayley spoke with IndyStar, Fox59, and WTHR in her first media interviews since Nakota’s death, providing them with documentation of four of the five formal abuse complaints she made against Anthony to DCS. She did not yet have the documentation for her fifth complaint, which she made on May 5, 2020.

For years, Hayley has been telling DCS and the family court system that Anthony was abusive toward Nakota, who told DCS workers himself that his father abused him. 

“He said, ‘My dad hit me. My dad smacks me. I don’t want to go with my dad anymore,” Hayley said. “‘He’s mean. He yells in my face. He doesn’t feed me enough.’”

Despite pleading for supervised visits between Anthony and his son, Hayley said, Anthony was allowed to continue unsupervised visitation with Nakota. 

“I felt like they were letting me down and letting my son down,” Hayley said, adding that relations between herself and her ex-boyfriend were better when he got his way, so she had become accustomed to giving in to whatever he wanted.

Nakota Kelly in baseball uniform
Nakota geared up for baseball last summer.

“I spent most of my days crying when he wasn’t with me,” Hayley said.

However, she told the newspaper, on the evening of Friday, July 17, she refused to let Nakota miss his last Little League game of the season despite his father’s wishes, and she believes that was the event that triggered Anthony’s murderous act. 

A judge had ordered Nakota’s weekend visitation was to begin at 6:00 PM on Friday, but because his final Little League game of the season was that evening, she stood her ground. “It was his last game,” she explained. “I made him miss his game on Saturdays, but Fridays I thought [Anthony] could work with me.”

In her text messages with Anthony that morning, she invited him to attend Nakota’s baseball game, but Anthony responded that he would “call the police and my lawyer will file citation against you.”

Nonetheless, Hayley brought Nakota to Anthony when the game was over, at which time Anthony was furious and told Hayley he would never work with her again.

“The day he left,” Hayley tearfully told WTHR, “he said, ‘Mom, I still love my dad, and I still want to see him. I just want to be safe.’ And I told him I was doing the best I could to ensure that I could keep him safe, and I couldn’t.”

The next day, police say, Anthony murdered his ten-year-old son.

Nakota and his father in June of 2016.

She told the newspaper about the beginning of her relationship with Anthony. In 2008, she said, she met a handsome, charismatic young man named Miguel Nchama through a dating website. “He was a sweet guy when I first met him,” she said, saying they spent time together renting movies, going out to eat, and bowling. She fell in love with Miguel, who she dated for two years before Nakota came along.

Not long before Nakota’s second birthday, though, she found out Miguel was not who he said he was. “Miguel Nchama” turned out to be one of five names the man has used over the years. He was born in Nigeria with the name Ejike Ibe, and he was in the United States illegally, as I also mentioned in my initial blog post about Nakota’s case. According to a criminal complaint filed on August 29, 2011, Anthony stole the identity of a man named Judson Mbanuzue, whose family he lived with briefly in 2002. He used the man’s name and Social Security number to work, obtain credit, file taxes, and rent a Muncie apartment.

If Muncie sounds familiar, it may be because another case I covered recently, that of Lauren McConniel, also played out there.

Nakota Kelly
Nakota Kelly.

“I felt betrayed,” Hayley said. “I was mad. I didn’t trust him anymore.” She did, however, still love the man — at least until after his conviction, at which point he became controlling. Hayley then broke up with him. After their breakup, he talked down to her and insulted her, picking on her looks and her weight. 

Anthony pleaded guilty in 2012 to Social Security fraud, identity theft, and misusing documents to stay in the country and served 34 months in federal prison. Near the end of his sentence, a judge ordered him deported, but, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Nigeria refused to take him back. (Countries can do that?!) 

“Unable to secure proper travel documents from Nigeria, on October 29, 2014, ICE officers had to release Dibiah on order of supervision,” said ICE spokesperson Nicole Alberico. 

IndyStar reported that the United States Supreme Court has ruled the government unable to imprison someone indefinitely who is in the country illegally in cases when it is unlikely that they will obtain the documents needed for deportation. Evidently, it has forced ICE to release thousands of immigrants who would otherwise have been deported. 


Anthony went to Wabash Circuit Court in October of 2016 for visitation with Nakota. After the little boy’s first overnight visit with his father on New Year’s Day of 2017, Hayley filed her first abuse allegation, saying Anthony gave Nakota a double dose of his ADHD medication. Anthony explained it was a mistake, saying he thought he was supposed to give Nakota both pills at once instead of one each day of the visit. That allegation was determined to be unsubstantiated.

“Nakota, at first,” Hayley told WTHR, “was excited to go with his dad, and then all of a sudden, he wasn’t excited anymore, and I knew something was wrong.”

In February of 2017, Hayley filed another complaint, telling DCS that Nakota had suffered bruises after Anthony dragged him down the stairs. 

In November of the same year, she complained that Anthony hit Nakota so hard in the face that her son fell backwards over a couch, landing on his back.

In June of 2018, she reported to DCS that Nakota was present when Anthony threatened to beat her. She said Anthony never hit her. “I noticed that every time I reported it, the abuse got worse, and it got more secretive.”

Hayley with more photos of Nakota.
(Kelly Wilkinson/IndyStar)

According to court and DCS records, caseworkers said they could not substantiate either parent’s side of the disputes. 

In July of 2018, Hayley filed a motion with Wabash Circuit Court asking for Nakota’s visits with his father to be supervised, but the court instead ordered them to meet with a mediator. On November 30 of that year, Hayley and Anthony signed a mediation agreement that stated they would set aside prior disputes and “never withhold parenting time if they suspect abuse [or] other issues and will let the court deal with it.”

“My lawyer told me we didn’t have enough evidence,” Hayley said. “We didn’t have enough to go on, because DCS unsubstantiated each and every time.”

Hayley told IndyStar that Nakota was afraid to visit his father and often cried when Hayley told him he had to go. “I just assured him that I would see him Sunday,” she said, at least until July 19, when “there was a Sunday I didn’t see him.”

Nakota Kelly
Nakota’s million-watt smile.

Hayley last heard Nakota’s voice during a phone call on Saturday, July 18 at 7:36 PM. He had just eaten a couple of Lunchables and had been watching YouTube on his phone, he told her. “I told him that I would see him tomorrow and told him I loved him and missed him,” Hayley said tearfully. “And we had this saying that we would say when we hang up the phone… I would say ‘I love you.’ He would say ‘I love you more.’ I would say ‘I love you the most.’ He would say ‘no, I love you google times infinity and beyond. Ha! I win.’ It was just our saying.”

About two hours later, Anthony called a cousin in Texas and repeatedly screamed, “I just killed my son!” When the cousin asked why, Anthony said that Hayley “had given him a very hard time and had cost him a lot of money in court.”

The relative hung up and called Indianapolis police, who visited Anthony’s apartment. His Jeep was in the parking lot, but no one answered when they knocked on the door after hearing someone moving around inside. Receiving no answer, the officer left. 

The next day, after Anthony called another friend at 11:43 AM and confessed again to killing his son, police returned to the apartment, where they found the bathroom covered with blood and strewn with hair and brain matter. Surveillance videos from the apartment complex showed Anthony making multiple trips from the apartment to the dumpster early that morning. When Missouri State Highway Patrol officers arrested him that afternoon around 4:00, they found blood in the back of the white Jeep Patriot.

Anthony Dibiah’s apartment building.
(Indy Channel)

Anthony’s attorney, Brian K. Lamar, had no comment “other than to say we are investigating all aspects of the case and we will provide a vigorous defense for Anthony.”

Hayley received a text message from Anthony on Sunday, July 19 at 2:01 PM, saying, “Sometimes I hear voices. My son is in Heaven.”


She didn’t believe Nakota was dead, saying, “I feared he would hurt him and put marks on him and would run with him. I never thought he would kill him.” She reported the text message to DCS, who then reported it to Indianapolis detectives. Hayley told IndyStar that when she slept that night, she dreamed of her son in a coffin. 

On the morning of Monday, July 20, a homicide detective called Hayley and said, “Unfortunately, I have to be the one that gives you the news that your son is presumed dead. We have enough evidence to charge his dad with murder.”

Hayley said she remembered the phone falling from her hand. She went into the bathroom and took too much Ibuprofen, and she spent four subsequent weeks at Parkview Behavioral Health Hospital in Fort Wayne, Indiana. “I was trying to block the pain,” she said. 

All Hayley wants is Nakota’s body to be found so she can lay him to rest. According to police, Anthony’s cell phone pinged twice near a wooded area in Indianapolis; they’ve searched the wooded area for Nakota’s remains, but they still haven’t found him. “His dad threw him out,” she said. “He dumped his body somewhere and won’t let me know. I feel like it’s another way of hurting me.”

Nakota Kelly with Santa
Nakota with Santa.

“It’s a brick laying on my chest, knowing that I can’t have my son to put him at ease.”

Hayley wishes she hadn’t handed her son over to his father that fateful weekend, but she had been previously ordered to abide by the visitation agreement or face being arrested. As for DCS, Hayley said, “They had the power and responsibility to keep children safe, and they didn’t do that with my son.”

Hayley lovingly described Nakota as a protector who stood up to bullies despite his small stature. He loved baseball and reading but wasn’t terribly fond of math, and he was sensitive to race issues, telling people his black and white cat named King was biracial like he was. He loved to cuddle, Hayley said, and cared for her if she didn’t feel well. “If I was sick, he would sit, like, right beside me on the couch. But he said he can’t sit too close, because he doesn’t want to get sick. He would ask if I needed anything, and he would take a blanket and cover me up.”

Hayley recently posted a video made of Nakota unboxing a camera tripod, which can be viewed here. His little voice is unbelievably sweet. 

Anthony Dibiah is scheduled for a jury trial beginning on November 23, 2020.

Click here for my ongoing coverage of Nakota’s case.

  • Hayley Kelly tattoo for Nakota
  • Baby Nakota Kelly
  • Nakota Kelly
  • Nakota Kelly
  • Nakota Kelly
  • Nakota Kelly
  • Nakota Kelly
  • Nakota Kelly with Legos
  • Nakota Kelly

Source: IndyStar, 13 WTHR, Fox59, Facebook


  1. I don’t care what DCS says. If I found out that my son was beaten by his dad, I would put his dad in the hospital period. She failed her son.

    • Great idea! Then Dad would’ve gotten full custody because Mom would be in prison. Imagine how many more of these ignorant, judgmental comments she’d have to deal with then!

  2. I do not work for CPS but I can tell you that do the number of false reports from one parent about the other parent they seem to never take them serious anymore. The system has failed completely but the parents have failed as well. Not to say this mother failed but so many other parents failed by false reporting as revenge towards an exe. There has to be a better way 🙁 Had this child made that statement to a neighbor or a teacher CPS would have listened. This is so sad!

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