Afraid of himself and his son, Yasemin Uyar was on the move again.
On Wednesday, the 24-year-old mother packed up her apartment in Rahway and made sure she moved later in the week for what may have been the sixth time, her mother Karen Uyar said. The restraining order Yasemin Uyar had received more than a year ago against his son’s father, Tyler Rios, did not prevent him from staying away, Karen Uyar said.
Karen Uyar said she last saw her daughter on Wednesday and she seemed fine, just preoccupied with the move. Friends were supposed to help her move on Friday, so when the daughter did not respond to her text messages that did not seem to go through, Karen Uyar said she did not panic.
But she said she became concerned on Friday when the Highland Park Police Department left a voicemail for Karen Uyar’s second daughter, Marissa, and warned her that Yasemin had been attacked. When an officer went to her home in Rahway, Yasemin and her son were not there. Her car, a silver model of the Ford Fiesta, was also gone, Karen Uyar said.
Speaking on her porch Saturday morning, Karen Uyar expressed relief that the 2-year-old boy, Sebastian, was found unharmed, but cried at the thought of missing his daughter. She said she would remain optimistic, but noted that Rios had previously strangled her daughter and slammed her head into a wall.
Sebastian and Tyler Rios were found Saturday in Monterey, Tennessee, acting Union County prosecutor Lyndsay Ruotolo and Rahway police chief Jonathan Parham said. According to authorities, Tyler Rios was arrested without incident. He is currently in Tennessee and will be extradited to New Jersey to face criminal charges in Union County Superior Court.
Judicial records show that Rios was charged with aggravated assault and strangulation of a domestic violence and theft in 2018. He entered into a prosecution and was convicted of a charge of domestic violence, according to a verdict handed down in February. 2020. The strangulation and allegations of theft were dismissed. As part of the deal, Rios was sentenced to 180 days in prison and three years probation.
He was also ordered not to have contact with the victim and undergo anger management classes.
The court documents do not identify Rios’ victim, but the circumstances and timeline of his conviction are consistent with Karen Uyar’s account.
Karen Uyar said she repeatedly told her daughter she was living in fear that one day she would get a scary call, but her daughter downplayed her concerns. “She would say, ‘He really did not want to hurt me. He just wants control. ‘”
In a lengthy Facebook post in 2019, Karen Uyar recounted a visit her daughter had made to Rios in Phoenix, Arizona, leading to a 911 call and Rios arrest.
“She is just a sweet person. She is a wonderful mother. She does everything with Sebastian. She is not the kind of child who always goes out with her friends, ”Uyar said. She said Sebastian is “a happy and playful child” who loves Spiderman and other superheroes.
Her daughter works at Walgreens and spends the rest of her time with her son, she said.
“She wanted to be independent, spend time with Sebastian and help him find friends. She wanted what every mother wants for her child, ”said Karen Uyar. She said she and her two daughters spent a lot of time together and talked or face-timed every day. Yasmin’s father lives in Turkey, she said.
Rios and Uyar met at Highland Park High School and dated to and from for years, Karen Uyar said.
Rios, who spent his childhood in Newark, was a unique high school wrestler after his mother sent him to live in Highland Park. “He’s the guy we build the program around,” his coach told a reporter in 2011 after £ 189 junior, a regional champion, set a school record with his 88th career victory. He would later fall short in the state championships.
For a while, Karen Uyar said, “Yasie” tried to be a co-parent with Tyler Rios and allowed them to go out on visits. He was to pick up his son from Karen Uyar’s home in Highland Park, but he would not abide by those terms, she said, and instead he would go straight to Yasemin’s apartment. Tyler Rios has a drinking problem and always hoped he could reunite with Yasemin, Karen Uyar said.
About three months ago, Rios showed up at the apartment unannounced. When police arrived, he was hiding behind Sebastian’s bed, Karen Uyar said her daughter told her. At that moment, she said her daughter realized she could no longer give him more chances as he was willing to use their son as a shield between himself and the police.
Karen Uyar said she has since learned that her daughter did not report to work at Walgreen on Thursday, which is uncharacteristic of her that she would not at least call out sick if she could not cope.
Karen Uyar said she did not know why Rios had fled to Tennessee, even though he has family in Georgia and Arizona. He was driving a car other than her daughter’s Ford Fiesta when he was arrested, she said police told her.
She said she made arrangements Saturday to go to Tennessee to bring Sebastian home. “In my heart I want to think she’s okay, that she needs time to heal.”
“I just want to bring her home, but I can.”
Staff author SP Sullivan contributed to this report.
Susan K. Livio can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @SusanKLivio.