Amber Alert ‘kidnapper’ admits killing Rahway, NJ mom
EAST ORANGE — The man who triggered a wide-reaching Amber Alert in July by killing his ex-girlfriend and taking their young son has accepted a plea deal.
Rios pleaded guilty Monday to first-degree aggravated manslaughter along with second-degree desecrating of human remains. Both counts stem from the killing of 24-year-old Rahway mother Yasemin Uyar — a woman who had previously suffered violence at hands of Tyler Rios, 27.
A grand jury had indicted Rios on a first-degree kidnapping charge, which was dismissed as part of the deal to avoid trial.
Rios was arrested in the summer, nearly 800 miles away at a hotel in Monterey, Tennessee. He had taken his then 2-year-old son Sebastian Rios there after killing the boy's mother.
The day before, panic spread through Uyar's family after she did not show up for work. Adding to the anxiety, her son never arrived at daycare.
State Police issued an Amber Alert about their disappearances that reached millions of people. The urgent news hit private cell phones, social media, and electronic billboards along major highways in several states.
Investigators from the Garden State called the Putnam County Sheriff's Office at around 3 a.m. on July 10, 2021. The Union County Prosecutor's Office informed them both Tyler and Sebastian Rios could be at the Bethel Inn Hotel off Interstate 40.
Within 15 minutes, local authorities found Rios' silver Ford Fiesta at the hotel. But it was hours before they were able to locate Uyar's body.
Ultimately, it was Rios who led investigators to Uyar's remains. Her body was left in the woods off Route 70.
The Union County Prosecutor's Office said Rios killed Uyar in her Rahway home on July 8. He put her body in the trunk of his car before dumping her in the woods hundreds of miles away.
While Tyler Rios stayed in custody, Uyar's mother drove 15 hours to Tennesse to pick up her grandson.
"He's home, which he knows is part of his home because he stays with us all the time with my other two grandchildren, and he's doing well, eating really well and is not in any kind of distress at the moment," Karen Uyar said at the time.
Sebastian is now 3 years old. He turns 4 this August.
Karen Uyar also said her daughter was a victim of domestic violence.
Rios and Uyar started their relationship at Highland Park High School. Rios was a senior while Uyar was a freshman.
After graduating, Rios earned himself a lengthy rap sheet. His criminal record includes domestic violence charges.
"Her relationship with domestic violence and Tyler is a long relationship," Karen Uyar previously said of her daughter. "People have to understand that it's not just the person that goes through this, it's an entire family. We as a family have been there for Yazzi through everything that was involved in their relationship."
In 2018, Rios was charged with strangling Uyar. Her mother also posted several other detailed incidents on Facebook of other violent attacks.
Rios struck a deal with prosecutors in April 2021, months before he killed Uyar. The Union County Prosecutor's Office dismissed the strangulation charge and Rios pleaded guilty to third-degree aggravated assault on a domestic violence victim.
A judge then sentenced Rios to three months probation. But in this specific case, he spent no time behind bars.
Three months later, Uyar was dead.
Days after authorities found Uyar's body, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a new law upping the punishment for non-fatal strangulation. Instead of probation, abusers can now face up to 10 years in state prison.
For the aggravated manslaughter charge, prosecutors said they will ask for 25 years in state prison. The state will look to make this sentence fall under the No-Early-Release Act, meaning Rios would need to serve 85% of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole.
His sentencing is set for June 10.