For once, Hayley Kelly didn’t give in to her son’s father.
It was Nakota’s last Little League game and Kelly wasn’t going to let him miss it.
Anthony Dibiah didn’t get his way that Friday night, and Kelly believes he did the worst thing he could to get back at her.
Dibiah allegedly killed their son.
Dibiah, 37, is being held in the Marion County Jail on a charge of murder.
Court and child welfare records provided by Kelly show her stand against her son’s father was the latest in a bitter custody battle that included repeated abuse complaints in the months and years before Dibiah’s arrest for Nakota’s murder.
A spokesperson for DCS declined to answer IndyStar’s questions and said confidentiality laws bar the agency from discussing specific cases.
Wabash Circuit Court Judge Robert R. McCallen III, who presides over Nakota’s custody case, also declined comment citing confidentiality rules.
Prosecutors say Dibiah suffocated his 10-year-old son with a bag on July 18 then took the body to the bathroom where he did something that left behind blood and brain matter.
Police still haven’t found Nakota’s remains.
“His dad threw him out,” Hayley Kelly told IndyStar in her first media interview since her son’s death. Her attorney was also present.
Nakota Kelly was a 10-year-old with a wide smile and glasses who loved baseball and reading, but not so much math.
His mom described Nakota as a protector who, despite his small size, stood up to bullies.
He was sensitive to race issues. He even told people his black-and-white cat named King was bi-racial, just like him.
Nakota, Kelly said, also loved to cuddle.
“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,” Kelly said. “He would ask if I needed anything and he would take a blanket and cover me up.”
He was loved deeply by his mother and half-sister, Jazmyn, 14, who are left now to mourn.
And Nakota, court records say, knew his life was in danger.
‘My dad is going to kill me’
“Oh, I’m dead. Don’t expect me to come home,” court documents say Nakota told his mother, days before what would be the boy’s final court-ordered weekend with his father. “My dad is going to kill me.”
Nakota made the comment, his mother says, because he hung up on his dad during a phone argument. Dibiah was not one to soon forget slights.
Hayley Kelly reported her son’s fears to Nakota’s Department of Child Services caseworker on July 14 but the complaint went unheeded, just as they had about a half dozen times before.
Kelly said she made five formal abuse complaints to DCS. She provided documents to IndyStar for four that were made between 2016 and 2018. She said she made another complaint on May 5, 2020, but told IndyStar child welfare officials had not yet provided her those documents.
A spokesperson for DCS said state law mandates that these records be kept confidential and declined to discuss Nakota’s case or even confirm that there was an active case involving Nakota.
However, the probable cause affidavit filed in Dibiah’s murder case confirmed that there had been an open DCS case.
Nakota told DCS caseworkers that he was scared of his father, that his father hit and yelled at him, the records show.
Kelly asked DCS and the courts to require Nakota’s visit with Dibiah be supervised, but records show the unsupervised visitation schedule did not change.
“I felt like they were letting me down and letting my son down,” Kelly said.
Things were better when Dibiah got what he wanted, so Kelly said she typically bent to his will.
But that Friday, Kelly stood her ground for her son’s sake.
Nakota was on a Little League team in their hometown of Wabash, Indiana.
A judge ordered that Nakota’s visit with his father begin at 6 p.m. The game and drive to Kokomo, the halfway point between between the parents’ homes, would mean the visit would start a couple hours later.
“It was his last game,” Kelly said. “I made him miss his game on Saturdays, but Fridays I thought (Dibiah) could work with me.”
In text messages that Friday morning, Kelly invited Dibiah to watch Nakota play ball. He texted back that he would “call the police and my lawyer will file citation against you.”
Kelly brought Nakota to his father after the ball game.
Afterwards, Kelly said Dibiah was furious and told her he would never work with her again.
It wasn’t always this way.
Love story built on lies
In 2008, Hayley Kelly, met a charming, handsome man through a dating website. He had told her his name was Miguel Nchama.
“He was a sweet guy when I first met him,” Kelly said.
They rented movies, went out to eat, went bowling. When she was upset, he understood. They spent time together.
She fell in love. They dated for two years before Nakota was born.
Months before Nakota’s second birthday, Kelly said she learned the man she loved had been living a lie.
Federal court records say Nchama was one of five names Dibiah has used. Records say the Nigerian national’s birth name is Ejike Ibe.
Dibiah was in the U.S. illegally. He had stolen the identity of a man named Judson Mbanuzue, according to a criminal complaint filed Aug. 29, 2011, in the U.S. District Court in Indianapolis.
Dibiah, authorities said, had lived with Mbanuzue’s family for a few months in 2002.
The complaint shows Dibiah was using Mbanuzue’s name and Social Security number to work, take out loans, file tax returns and rent an apartment in Muncie.
In 2011, the real Judson Mbanuzue called police.
Nakota was 2 years old in May 2012 when U.S, District Court records show Dibiah pleaded guilty to Social Security fraud, identity theft and misusing documents to stay in the U.S.
“I felt betrayed,” Kelly said. “I was mad. I didn’t trust him anymore.”
Even though her trust had been shattered, Kelly said she still loved him.
Her feelings soon changed after his conviction in the federal fraud case, she said.
Not long after she learned his real name, Kelly said Dibiah began making demands “on what I do and when I do it.”
“It was when he started to be controlling,” Kelly said. “I figured I don’t want to be with this guy anymore.”
Dibiah served a 34-month sentence in federal prison, federal court records show.
A man without a country
As his prison sentence was nearing an end in 2014, a judge ordered Dibiah to be deported.
But Nigeria, his home country, refused to take him back, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson said.
It is not clear why Nigeria declined to take Dibiah back. The Nigerian embassy did not responded to IndyStar’s request for comment.
“Unable to secure proper travel documents from Nigeria, on Oct. 29, 2014, ICE officers had to release Dibiah on order of supervision,” ICE spokesperson Nicole Alberico said.
“He was stateless. A man with no country,” said Angela Adams, an Indianapolis attorney and expert in immigration law.
Adams said the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the government can not indefinitely imprison someone who is in the country illegally when it is unlikely they will get the travel documents they need to be deported.
An ICE official said the ruling has forced ICE to release thousands of immigrants who would otherwise be deported.
Adams, however, doubts that there are thousands of such individuals here in the country. She said she’s seen just one similar case.
Alberico said Dibiah was released from a federal prison in Ohio in October 2014.
Kelly said, and letters she received from Dibiah and showed to IndyStar confirm, that Dibiah spent more months in an Ohio jail while the government tried to deport him.
By 2016, Dibiah had been freed on a supervision order requiring him to check in regularly with ICE. Dibiah’s most recent check-in was in March, Alberico said.
“He should have been gone,” Adams said. “Nigeria should have issued a travel document and taken him back.
“This is someone who should not be in the United States, regardless of your political persuasion.”
Complaints of abuse begin
Records show that Dibiah returned to Indiana not long after his release. In October 2016, he went to Wabash Circuit Court to ask a judge to let him visit Nakota.
Records show Kelly filed an abuse allegation after Nakota’s first overnight visit with his father on New Year’s Day 2017.
Department of Child Services records provided by Kelly show that Dibiah accidentally gave his then 7-year-old son a double-dose of his ADHD medication.
Dibiah told a caseworker it was a mistake.
He said he thought he was supposed to give Nakota both pills at the same time, rather than one each day. The caseworker found the abuse unsubstantiated.
Kelly filed three more abuse complaints against Dibiah over the next two years, according to the reports.
There was the time in February 2017 when Kelly told DCS Nakota was bruised after his father pulled him down the stairs.
In November 2017, she reported that Dibiah had struck Nakota in the face so hard that the boy fell backwards over a couch and landed on his back.
Kelly said Dibiah never struck her, but after the breakup she said he would demean her and insult her looks and her weight. In June 2018, she told DCS that Nakota was present when Dibiah threatened to beat her.
Kelly told IndyStar that Nakota told her he was afraid of going to his father’s home because he knew he would be abused. Records she provided show that Nakota also told a caseworker that Dibiah hit him and yelled at him.
When DCS visited Dibiah after each complaint, he denied abusing his son. He told caseworkers that Kelly was the problem, records show. She wanted more child support and was trying to cut his time with Nakota, he told caseworkers, according to the records provided by Kelly.
Records show the DCS caseworkers said they never found enough evidence to support one parent’s word over the other.
Records show Dibiah lied in 2017 when he told a DCS caseworker he had no criminal record.
Kelly asked the Wabash Circuit Court to require Nakota’s visits with Dibiah be supervised on July 5, 2018, according documents she provided to IndyStar.
Instead, the court ordered the parents to meet with a mediator.
On Nov. 30, 2018, records provided to IndyStar show Dibiah and Kelly signed a mediation agreement in which they agreed to set aside prior disputes and “to never withhold parenting time if they suspect abuse (or) other issues and will let the court deal with it.”
Nakota’s unsupervised visits with his father continued.
“My lawyer told me we didn’t have enough evidence, we didn’t have enough to go on because DCS (found abuse) unsubstantiated each and every time,” Kelly told IndyStar.
“I noticed that every time I reported it the abuse got worse and it got more secretive.”
Kelly said the court system wasn’t paying attention to her pleas for help. She stopped reporting the abuse, she said.
Nakota, Kelly said, was afraid to see his father. He often cried when Kelly told him he had to go to Dibiah’s home.
“I just assured him that I would see him Sunday,” she said.
“And there was a Sunday I didn’t see him.”
‘I just killed my son!’
The last time Kelly heard her son’s voice was a phone call at 7:36 p.m. on July 18.
Nakota was fine. He had eaten a couple Lunchables and was watching YouTube on his phone.
“I told him that I would see him tomorrow and told him I loved him and I missed him,” Kelly said, tears dampening her eyes.
“And we had this saying that we would say when we hang up the phone,” she said.
“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 googol x infinity and beyond. Ha! I win.’
“It was just our saying.”
They hung up. Kelly believed she’d see her son the next day.
The probable cause affidavit in Dibiah’s murder case lays out the horrific details.
About two hours after Nakota’s phone call with his mom, Dibiah phoned a relative in Texas and screamed: “I just killed my son!”
He repeated it three or four times.
Why? the relative asked.
Dibiah told the relative that Kelly “had given him a very hard time and had cost him a lot of money in court.”
The relative hung up and called police.
Indianapolis police went to Dibiah’s apartment and knocked on the door. They heard someone inside and saw Dibiah’s white Jeep Patriot in the parking lot, but no one answered.
The officer did not believe he had reason enough to enter the apartment without permission, investigators said. Police left.
The next morning, Sunday July 19, investigators said Dibiah called a friend and told a second person he had killed Nakota.
The friend called police at 11:43 a.m. Dibiah, by then, had already left town.
Officers returned to Dibiah’s apartment. This time they got a manager to open the door. Inside, they found blood, hair and brain matter.
Investigators say surveillance cameras captured Dibiah making several trips to load something into his Jeep’s hatchback. The cameras also saw Dibiah make stops at the complex’s trash bin.
Dibiah’s phone tracked him stopping in a nearby wooded area, where police would later spend hours searching unsuccessfully for Nakota’s remains.
Police also searched the trash bin and found nothing.
About 4 p.m. on July 19, Missouri State Highway Patrol officers found Dibiah in his Jeep and detained him. There was blood in the Jeep’s hatchback, documents say.
In August, Dibiah was extradited back to Indianapolis, where he is being held without bond in the Marion County Jail awaiting trial on a charge of murder in connection with Nakota’s death.
Dibiah wouldn’t talk to police. He declined IndyStar’s request for an interview.
Dibiah’s attorney, Brian K. Lamar, also declined to comment on the case but vowed to provide a “vigorous defense.”
‘My son is in heaven’
Kelly’s first notion that something bad happened came in a text message at 2:01 p.m. on July 19.
“Sometimes I hear voices,” Dibiah texted. “My son is in Heaven.”
Kelly said she did not believe her son was dead.
“I feared he would hurt him and put marks on him and would run with him,” Kelly said. “I never thought he would kill him.”
Kelly called the DCS caseworker and reported the text message. The caseworker told detectives about this text message, according to the probable cause affidavit.
She waited by the phone that Sunday, hoping for a call telling her Nakota was safe and coming home.
That night when she slept, Kelly dreamed of Nakota in coffins.
The phone rang that next morning, Monday July 20.
“Unfortunately,” a homicide detective said, “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.”
Kelly remembers the phone dropping from her hand. She went into the bathroom and took too much ibuprofen.
Kelly said she spent four weeks at Parkview Behavioral Health Hospital in Fort Wayne.
“I was trying to block the pain,” she said.
The pain doesn’t go away, Kelly said. She’s still struggling.
She wants her son’s body. She wants Nakota to have a proper burial.
Dibiah has not told anyone where to find Nakota. Kelly believes this is the one last thing Dibiah can do to stay in control.
“He dumped his body somewhere and won’t let me know,” Kelly said. “I feel like it’s another way of hurting me.”