Zaden Alexander McKnight

Zaden, circa 2014; Age-progression to age 8 (circa 2017); Nichelle McKnight; Antwan Anderson; Tonisha Harris

  • Missing Since 03/25/2014
  • Missing From Dayton, Ohio
  • Classification Endangered Missing
  • Date of Birth 05/25/2009 (10)
  • Age 4 years old
  • Height and Weight 3'0, 45 pounds
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description A yellow and blue coat, blue jeans, red velcro shoes with the words "Lightning McQueen" on them, and a yellow toboggan-type hat with the Despicable Me minions cartoon characters on it.
  • Distinguishing Characteristics African-American male. Brown hair, brown eyes.

Details of Disappearance

Zaden and his mother, Nichelle La'Rod McKnight, disappeared together from Dayton, Ohio on March 25, 2014. Nichelle was last seen leaving her home in the 600 block of Homewood Avenue at 11:00 p.m. She was in the company of her ex-boyfriend, Antwan Anderson, at the time of her disappearance.

Nichelle's mother reported her and Zaden missing after she found out Nichelle hadn't shown up for work at either of her two jobs for several days. Photos of Nichelle and Anderson are posted with this case summary.

Police wanted to question Anderson about the pair's disappearance. He had active warrants for his arrest. Authorities tried to pull him over at a traffic stop, but he fled from the vehicle and ran into a wooded area. Two officers chased him and he pulled out a gun. There was a shoot-out between Anderson and the police which ended in Anderson fatally shooting himself in the head.

On April 11, an anonymous caller who said he was a friend of Anderson directed police to search behind the Riverview Park Apartments, in the 4300 block of Riverside Drive, near the Stillwater River. Authorities did go there and found Nichelle's body; she had been shot twice in the head. There was no sign of Zaden, however.

On April 30, Tonisha Harris was arrested and charged with one count of failure to report a crime, one count of evidence tampering and two counts of gross abuse of a corpse in Nichelle's murder and Zaden's presumed death.

Authorities found evidence, including blood, at her home in the 20 block of Birchwood Avenue which indicated both Nichelle and Zaden had died there. They also located the shoes Nichelle was last seen wearing, her bank cards, her driver's license and Social Security cards for her and Zaden.

A photo of Harris is posted with this case summary. She, too, had dated Anderson, and she used Nichelle's bank cards without her permission before she went missing, spending nearly $3,000. (She was ultimately sentenced to ten months in prison for this.) Authorities believe Harris used the cards at Anderson's instruction. Nichelle had found out about the thefts and disappeared shortly after she confronted Anderson about it.

In October 2015, Harris pleaded guilty to evidence tampering and failure to report a crime, and no contest to gross abuse of a corpse. She was sentenced to three years in prison, one year short of the maximum sentence. Authorities believe she cleaned blood out of her basement and the trunk of her car. They think she was "intimately involved" in Nichelle and Zaden's deaths, but she denies this, and she hasn't been charged in connection with the actual homicides.

Investigators have made several searches for Zaden's body; they said they had no hope that he was still alive. He has never been located, but foul play is suspected in his case due to the circumstances involved.

Investigating Agency

  • Dayton Police Department 937-333-2677

Updated 3 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated November 28, 2017; details of disappearance updated.