Sean Phillips, father of missing Baby Kate, will be charged with murder in connection with the two-year-old disappearance of his daughter. Phillips was arraigned on Friday from jail via videoconference.
The murder charge, announced by Attorney General Bill Schuette in a news conference, “moves us one step closer to securing justice for Baby Kate.”
It was two years ago that Ariel Cortland, the baby’s mother, and Phillips argued in front of her apartment. At that time, Baby Kate was four-and-a-half months old. She was in a car seat in the back seat as her parents argued. When Cortland went back in to the house for something, she returned to find Phillips gone along with Baby Kate.
Reportedly, Phillips was concerned about a court order DNA test to show he was Kate’s father. Three hours later Phillips car was found along with the car seat and diaper bag in the trunk. Kate’s clothing was found in his pocket. He was arrested the following day the home of his parents. But there was no trace of the child.
As the search went on it was reported that the baby was last seen wearing a black and white polka dot outfit. She had blue eyes, no hair and was teething.
Philips was convicted of unlawful imprisonment in connection with her disappearance. He is currently serving 10 to 15 years for that felony.
But on Friday, police held a press conference announcing that they have new evidence to support the open murder charge. Cortland did not hear about the charges before the new conference and said hearing about it that way was, “like a slap in the face.”
For two years, the story has haunted the residents of Ludington, Michigan, a small town 80 miles northwest of Grand Rapids. The question has remained, where is Baby Kate?
In Schuette’s emotional press conference on Friday, he lamented that Kate would have no first day of kindergarten, no first Christmas and no first birthday party. Whatever the evidence, which police did not reveal, Schuette said, “Now, unfortunately, we will never be able to bring Baby Kate back. She was the innocent victim of a terrible crime at the hands of her father, no less. This is a tragic case.”
Phillips will receive a court appointed attorney. He is in custody at the Carson City Correctional Facility in Carson City, Michigan. He was convicted in August 2012 of unlawful imprisonment in his daughter’s disappearance. He has been there since his conviction. He is charged with open murder, which means the jury has the opportunity to consider both first-and second-degree convictions. He could serve life in prison for his daughter’s murder.
Courtland attended the news conference and the arraignment and still holds out hope that Kate is possibly alive. “We don’t know and we need to keep the hope that she’s going to come home,” she said.
Police declined to comment on what evidence led them to the charge, but there was speculation about the material found on the bottom of Phillips shoes. The father charged with murder in the disappearance of Baby Kate has saddened the entire small town.