DETROIT (FOX 2) - Two years ago, a Detroit man dropped off a little boy at a fire station and said he found him wandering the street. Now he's pleaded guilty to murdering the little boy's mother after leading police to where he dumped her body two years ago.
Isaeah Smith was just one back in December 2016 when he was left at the station by Robert Autrey. His mother, Nicole Smith, was gone and missing for months. She remained missing until last month when Autrey led investigators to her body.
Today, Isaeah is three and in the arms of his adopted family.
But it's not over for Nicole and her family. Her grandfather, Conrad Green, said that Nicole's life ended in 2016 but it was a long build up to that day.
He said she was knocked out and raped in 2015 but the rapist wasn't identified. The man, identified as Autrey, stalked her on Facebook and ultimately killed her.
"How do you knock a person out, have sex with them, then stalk them, befriend them, take their money then kill them?" Green said.
He only told investigators where to find her in exchange for a plea deal for second degree murder.
"You messed up my family's life - you messed up your own family life. You didn't just damage one, you damaged a lot of lives out here," her aunt, Dana Smith, said.
Dana and her family spent two years searching for Nicole. It wasn't until December 19th that Autrey finally led authorities to her body.
He hid her body in an abandoned apartment building at Burlingame and Nardin Park on Detroit's west side.
The only good thing to have come of it is that he didn't hurt Izaeah, the family said.
"The monster that he was - or is - he could have did something to this baby. So I appreciate him for saving his life," Dana said.
Izaeah now has a new family. Nicole's cousin, Shannon Smith, adopted the toddler. She believes he witnessed what happened to his mother when he was just 18 months old.
"He woke up out of his sleep crying yelling - no! And I never knew why he woke out of his sleep crying and yelling," Shannon said.
Now though, he's three and a half and a happy, healthy boy with a loving family.
"I'm ecstatic. I'm blessed. I didn't know if I could have kids so it's a blessing to me," Shannon said.
They're also considering this ending a blessing now that they have justice for Nicole.
"I was happy that we found her - I was happy that they got him - prayers answered," Green said.
Autrey will be sentenced for second degree murder on January 15th. He's also now facing another charge from a different case in 2011 of home invasion and rape.