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Prosecutors: Video, Key Fob Tie Boyfriend to Toddler Killing

By  Quinn Ford and Erin Meyer | March 20, 2014 3:31pm 

 James Harris IV (l.), of the 3500 block of South Rhodes Avenue, is accused of murdering Amerah Roberson.
James Harris IV (l.), of the 3500 block of South Rhodes Avenue, is accused of murdering Amerah Roberson.
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Chicago Police Department, Facebook

COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — The man accused of killing his girlfriend's 19-month-old daughter was ordered held without bail on Thursday.

Prosecutors said James Harris IV, who turned 24 today, killed Amerah Roberson before dumping her body in the woods in south suburban Riverdale earlier this week.

Video from a building near where the toddler's body was found, a key chain and witnesses all place Harris at the woods the day the toddler was killed, said Assistant State's Attorney Robert Mack.

Mack said Harris had been talking on the phone with Amerah's mother on Sunday as the mother returned home from work. The two had made plans to take the toddler out to dinner.

But about 5 p.m., Harris called the mother to say the toddler had disappeared as she and Harris were waiting to be picked up from their apartment building in the 3500 block of South Rhodes Avenue, Mack said.

At 3:25 p.m. Sunday, police discovered the burned body of Amerah in the woods near the 14000 block of South Normal in Riverdale.

During an investigation, police found video from a nearby building showing Harris entering the woods carrying a bag on Saturday. Police also found a keychain belonging to Harris' car near Amerah's body, Mack said.

Police said Harris also called someone for a ride from Riverdale on March 15. That witness told police when the 23-year-old was picked up he had a bag containing children's clothes that smelled like gasoline. Harris' clothes were muddy and also smelled like gasoline, Mack said.

Harris also told the witness he had lost his keys in the woods.

"I f---ed up. I f---ed up. I lost my keys in the wood," Mack said Harris told the witness.

Harris eventually admitted to police he had taken Amerah's body to the woods and set it on fire, but said the toddler died after accidentally falling from a bed in their apartment. Prosecutors said Harris' explanation did not match the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office's conclusion, which declared the death a homicide.

Harris was ordered held without bail by a Cook County judge Thursday.

Prosecutors said Harris had been arrested in 2013 for reckless driving and received supervision.