Mom's boyfriend denied bond in murder of Chicago toddler

March 21, 2014 (CHICAGO)

A Chicago man is being without bond in connection with the death of his girlfriend's 19-month-old daughter, whose burned body was found in a suburban wooded area.

During a hearing Thursday, Cook County prosecutors say surveillance video caught James Harris IV going into the woods where Amierah Roberson's body was discovered in Riverdale.

The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office determined the toddler died of blunt force trauma.

Prosecutors say the 23-year-old Harris initially claimed the child died from an accidental fall from a bed. He allegedly later admitted he killed the girl and dumped her body.

The girl was left in Harris' care as her mother went to work. As she headed to Harris' apartment for the child, he allegedly told the mother the child had wandered off.

Amierah, of Calumet City, was reported missing from Harris' South Side apartment on Sunday near 35th and Rhodes. Her body was found the same day, and identified by autopsy on Monday.

Several agencies helped work the case. Police say Harris admitted he killed the girl in his apartment in Chicago.

Amierah's body was found in a wooded area near 140th Court and Normal. When Amierah was reported missing, police were initially told that the boyfriend of Amierah's mother had left the child unattended for a moment, and when he returned she was gone. Police never issued a missing child report.

"I'm still trying to absorb it all. I know it's true, but again I'm still in awe and disbelief," said Bernadette Madison, child's grandmother.

Madison says she received a frantic call from her daughter, Amierah's mother, Sunday evening shortly before 6 p.m. Amierah had gone missing, Madison was told, after being in the care of her daughter's boyfriend at his residence in the city's Bronzeville neighborhood while her daughter was at work.

"They had arranged to meet downstairs in front of the building, but the other party was there. My daughter showed up there, no Amierah," said Madison.

"There was a lot of investigating going on as far as the police checking every outgoing and incoming car," said Norrice Hogans, Bronzeville resident.

At least two hours before Amierah was reported missing, the body of a young girl was found in the wooded area in Riverdale.

On Monday, the medical examiner confirmed it was Amierah. She'd been assaulted and suffered head injuries. The death was ruled a homicide.

"She was a sweetheart. She was a joy to be around. She was an angel," said Deborah Madison, child's great grandmother.

"I'm going to miss her smile. I'm going to miss, we danced all the time. We played. I was her BFF," said Bernadette Madison. "We will have to deal with this in time. Hopefully each day will make it easier to deal with."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2024 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.