New kidnapping warrant issued for teen in Ellis case

Members of the volunteer "Amir's Army" head into the woods near Jessieville in August during one of the searches organized by his mother, Jessica Ellis. (The Sentinel-Record/Lance Brownfield/File)
Members of the volunteer "Amir's Army" head into the woods near Jessieville in August during one of the searches organized by his mother, Jessica Ellis. (The Sentinel-Record/Lance Brownfield/File)

A felony warrant on a charge of kidnapping was issued Tuesday against a fourth suspect allegedly involved in the kidnapping of Amir Isaiah Ellis, 19, whose remains were found in northern Garland County on Dec. 16, 2023, after he was reported missing on May 17.

Takahi Debrione Shelby, 18, whose last known address was on Rocky Reef Circle, is being sought on the warrant for kidnapping, punishable by up to life in prison. As of Thursday afternoon, she had not been arrested.

Three other teen suspects were arrested on May 27 and each initially charged with kidnapping in the case. On Jan. 4, an amended information was filed against each of them to add the charge of capital murder after the remains found were confirmed to be those of Ellis.

Nathaniel Allen Speed, 18, who listed a Centerview Street address at the time of his arrest, Alexia Tamaara Chambers, 18, who is reportedly homeless, and a juvenile, then under the age of 18, whose name is not being released, were all arrested in Fort Smith on May 27 on the kidnapping charges and have remained in custody on $1 million bonds.

Jessica Ellis, Amir Ellis' mother, told The Sentinel-Record Thursday that she was happy about the latest arrest warrant, but believes there was an older woman present at the time of the kidnapping who should also be charged. (See related story).

Garland County Prosecuting Attorney Michelle Lawrence told The Sentinel-Record on Jan. 8 that since the original kidnapping charges were class Y felonies she only had to add a few additional items of information to the existing affidavit to add the murder charge.

The attorneys for the youngest suspect, who is now 18, had filed a motion to have his case transferred to juvenile court since he was 17 at the time of the alleged offense. Because the motion remains under appeal, his name was still not being released Thursday. A brief from his attorneys is due by April 6 and then prosecutors have 15 days to reply.

According to the probable cause affidavit on Shelby, on May 17, Jessica Ellis reported to Hot Springs police that her son was missing and was last seen on May 15 at Shelby's residence on Rocky Reef Circle. Jessica Ellis said a female occupant of the residence contacted her on May 17 to report her son was taken on May 15 by two unknown males.

On May 18, Hot Springs police detectives met with Shelby at her residence and she reportedly told them she didn't know who was responsible for taking Amir Ellis, but that two unidentified males entered the residence and took him. She did not provide a specific description of the persons involved, a reason as to why the incident occurred, or an explanation for how they knew Ellis was present.

On May 25, during a noncustodial interview with police, Shelby reportedly said that Speed, Chambers and the other male suspect came to the restaurant where she was working at around 9 p.m. May 15, and Chambers allegedly asked if she could get Ellis to come to her home, where they would come and pick him up.

Shelby said she agreed to get Ellis to come to her house. After she got off work at 10:30 p.m., she went home and messaged Ellis, asking him to come over. Once he was there, she said she told Chambers via phone Ellis was there and "sent a picture of a tattoo Amir has as confirmation."

A few minutes later, Chambers reportedly messaged Shelby telling her they were outside. Shelby said she then went to the restroom as Speed and the other male entered the house and went into the bedroom where Ellis was staying.

Shelby reportedly described a struggle between Ellis and the other two. At that point, Shelby said she left the restroom and went outside in her backyard.

Moments later, she said she saw Speed's red passenger car leave from her house without its lights on. Shelby told detectives she had disconnected the video surveillance system at her residence just prior to this occurring.

The affidavit notes a statement obtained from the second male after their arrest corroborated Shelby's statement.

After a monthslong search, the human remains were found off Highway 7 north near Jessieville on Dec. 16. The Arkansas State Crime Laboratory confirmed the remains were Ellis on Jan. 3.

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