What to Know
- An NJ man faces first-degree kidnapping and murder charges for allegedly abducting his toddler son and the boy's mother, leaving the latter's body in the woods about 800 miles from where she was taken
- The toddler, Sebastian Rios, was found safe Saturday in Monterey, Tennessee, which is where his father was taken into custody
- The dead 24-year-old's mother described her daughter as a doting parent who struggled in an abusive relationship but said she didn't want her solely to be remembered as a victim
The 27-year-old father accused of kidnapping his own 2-year-old son, prompting a multi-state Amber Alert last week, has now been charged with first-degree murder in the death of the boy's mother, whose body was found 800 miles away from where she and her son were abducted, prosecutors said Thursday.
Tyler Rios faces a charge of first-degree kidnapping in the case of his son, Sebastian Rios, and now premeditated murder in the death of 24-year-old Yasemin Uyar, whose body was found Saturday Tennessee, a day after she and Sebastian were reported missing in New Jersey.
The Highland Park man was identified as a suspect in the case when Sebastian Rios didn't show up for daycare Friday and Uyar didn't show up for scheduled work shifts, Union County prosecutors say. Local police conducted a welfare check on Uyar's home and found nobody inside.
The Amber Alert was issued a short time later.
Tyler Rios was taken into custody in Monterey, Tennessee, early Saturday, which is when authorities found his son, Sebastian, unharmed. It wasn't until hours later that Uyar's body was found in a wooded area nearby, off of Interstate 40.
It's not clear where or when she was killed.
An autopsy performed on Uyar determined her death to be a homicide, though authorities have not released any details on how she may have been killed.
Karen Uyar told NJ Advance Media that her daughter was a doting mother who struggled in an abusive relationship. On Facebook, she said the family grieves her loss but doesn't want her remembered solely as a victim.
“She was a daughter, sister, mother, aunt and cousin," Karen Uyar said. “Her life will be celebrated as her greatest gift to this world.”
NJ Amber Alert
"This is probably the hardest few days of our lives," she added. "[Sebastian is] happy, he's playing right now. He's obviously confused, asking for mommy."
But while the circumstances leading up to Uyar's death remain unclear, her family believed her alleged abductor planned to hide out with family in Georgia.
Karen Uyar says her daughter's relationship with Rios was a violent one, and that he was on probation.
"I would like to say that it's something we never thought would happen but when you live with a child that's going through a domestic violence relationship for a long time, it is something you learn to know it's going to happen at some point. You always hope it isn't, you always pray that it isn't," Karen Uyar said.
Tyler Rios remains in custody in Tennessee pending extradition back to New Jersey, after which a first appearance and detention hearing will be scheduled. Information on a possible attorney for him wasn't immediately available.