Fourth suspect, 18, arrested on kidnapping warrant in Ellis case

Volunteers pray before splitting into search parties in the Jessieville area in the search for Amir Ellis last summer. (The Sentinel-Record/Lance Brownfield/File)
Volunteers pray before splitting into search parties in the Jessieville area in the search for Amir Ellis last summer. (The Sentinel-Record/Lance Brownfield/File)

A fourth suspect sought in last year's disappearance of Amir Isiah Ellis, 20, was arrested Thursday on a felony warrant for kidnapping, punishable by up to life in prison, almost a month from the day the warrant was issued.

Takahi Debrione Shelby, 18, turned herself in at the Garland County Detention Center around 3 p.m. Thursday, Hot Springs police Officer 1st Class Omar Cervantes told The Sentinel-Record Friday morning.

Shelby's last known address was on Rocky Reef Circle when the warrant was issued on Feb. 27, but she listed a Pearl Street address in Hot Springs on the inmate roster when she was booked in shortly before 4:30 p.m. Thursday. She remained in custody Friday on a $500,000 bond and is set to appear Tuesday in Garland County Circuit Court.

"I'm so happy right now and so thankful to God, because God has answered every one of my prayers throughout this entire nightmare," Jessica Ellis, Amir Ellis' mother, told the newspaper Thursday night.

"It's that thought alone that has my heart so full of joy it literally brings me to tears," she said. "I'm just glad she is in jail about to face the consequences for her actions just like the other three."

The remains of Amir Ellis were found in northern Garland County on Dec. 16, 2023, after he was reported missing on May 17. Three other teen suspects were arrested May 27 and each initially charged with kidnapping in the case, but a capital murder charge was added against each of them Jan. 4 after the remains were confirmed to be those of Ellis.

Nathaniel Allen Speed, 18, of Hot Springs, Alexia Tamaara Chambers, 18, who is reportedly homeless, and a juvenile, then under the age of 18, whose name has not been 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 said her son would have been 21 on April 4, noting, "now we have something else to celebrate on that day, they finally have the ones who stole his life from him and Amir can begin to rest in peace and love."

She had a message Thursday night for her son: "I got 'em, son, I got 'em! Just like I promised!" I love you, Mom."

It was unknown if Shelby had left Hot Springs and returned or stayed throughout the last month and Jessica Ellis said, "I'm definitely curious about that and where she has been."

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 then-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, detectives met with Shelby 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 and didn't provide any other information.

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

Shelby said she agreed and arranged for Ellis to come to her house shortly after 10:30 p.m. Once he was there, she said she phoned Chambers to tell her and a few minutes later Chambers told her they were outside. She 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 said a struggle ensued between Ellis and the other two so she went outside to her backyard. Moments later, she said she saw Speed's 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.

A statement obtained from the second male after his arrest reportedly corroborated Shelby's statement. After further investigation, a warrant for Shelby's arrest was issued on Feb. 27.

George "Birc" Morledge IV, Samantha Stephenson and Jason M. Kidder, all with the Morledge Law Firm, of Little Rock, filed paperwork Friday indicating they had been retained to represent Shelby in the case.

  photo  Takahi Debrione Shelby (Submitted photo)

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