Albany teen who was fatally stabbed Saturday spoke of threat two days earlier on his Facebook page

Section: Main,  Page: A1

Date: Friday, May 6, 2011

Correction: The last name of Dhoruba Shuaib was incorrectly spelled in the print version of this story.

ALBANY -- Just two days before 17-year-old Tyler Rhodes was stabbed to death in Hoffman Park, he told friends on Facebook that the teen now charged with his murder pulled a knife on him during a jog.

"Y ppl gatta pull knifes out on me," he posted on his page.

The update was posted from a cellphone at 7:15 p.m. April 28, almost exactly 48 hours before his death.

A friend responded to the post by asking if he was OK, and Rhodes responded that he was and wasn't going to fight "when I didn't have anything."

Another friend asked who the person was, and Rhodes responded, "Jahla."

Jah-Lah Tyree Vanderhorst, 16, was charged with plunging a knife into Rhodes' chest at 7 p.m. Saturday. As Vanderhorst attacked, Dhoruba A. Shuaib, 19, stood behind Rhodes to keep him from getting away, police said. Both pleaded not guilty to murder charges Tuesday.

The thread following Rhodes' Facebook status on April 28 points to a long-standing feud between Rhodes and Vanderhorst; one friend wrote "oh yal still beefin."

Rhodes goes on to tell his friends that he was jogging when Vanderhorst pulled a knife on him, and later says, "Yea its gettin on ma nerves I'm bout to find him alone" and fight him.

Police are still mum on the reason for the feud between the two, which started about a year before Rhodes' death.

"It's too early to comment," Police Detective Division Commander Anthony Ryan said. "We have a lot of information and things to continue to work through."

Rhodes' earlier posts on Facebook offer a glimpse into the teen's life.

Some statuses hint at problems and fights with other teens, and posted photos show his forearm bleeding after someone threw a brick at him, though there is no mention of who the person was or why the assault happened.

Other posts are typical of a teen interested in girls and school. In one he notes that he was tired and didn't want to go to class. In another he wrote he was "indifferent" to chemistry.

He posted a photo of himself in a new track suit and told friends when he was off to meets. On April 26 he said lightning calms him down and makes him think. He hoped he'd hear some thunder.

Other times, his posts were more contemplative.

"If I knew wut I know now when I was growin up things be a lot smoother in ma life," he posted on April 27.

On March 28, he posted that his grandmother, Sharon Edwards, was the victim of a Stanley Street fire in Schenectady where she was badly burned and taken to Albany Medical Center by helicopter. Later that week, Edwards died, and friends expressed condolences on Rhodes' Facebook wall.

His Facebook profile has been inundated by friends and well-wishers posting messages of condolences since 9:38 p.m. April 30, when someone posted, "save me a spot up der u will be missed."

Even on Thursday around 1 p.m., friends continued to post messages to the teen.

"I'm trying not to cry and think about the good times..but tears are falling for u and I miss u," one friend wrote.

Ryan said social networking sites have become a routine place to check during criminal investigations. Investigators had looked at Rhodes' profile, he said.

"Law enforcement has changed quite a bit over the recent years between various technologies and various social networks out there," he said.

But Ryan said Rhodes' post about Vanderhorst was not a break in the case.

"In a situation like this when you have somebody who was so well-liked, so well-known and this being such a public incident, that usually gives us an opportunity to learn more early on in an investigation."

Ryan said Rhodes' murder has been especially troubling for police because of the circumstances involved.

"You can tell that Tyler Rhodes, he was doing the right thing in life, and was just a nice, decent kid," he said.

Reach Dayelin Roman at 454-5350 or droman@timesunion.com