Baby Kate

I wrote up the abduction of four-month-old Katherine Shelbie-Elizabeth Phillips last night and put it up just a little bit ago. I’m really surprised this hasn’t gotten more publicity. I mean, it’s been well-publicized locally but not on the national level. I don’t think it’s even been on Nancy Grace, and you’d think she’d jump on this.

“Baby Kate” as she is often referred to in the media joins a fairly large group of children on my website who were disappeared by their parents. Some people drew parallels to the case of the Skelton boys, Tanner, Alexander and Andrew. There’s also the now-resolved case of Sam and Lindsey Porter: after gleefully watching their mother’s agony for years, their father finally admitted he’d killed them.

In fact there are several, less famous cases where one parent killed a child and then hid the body and let everyone, most of all the other parent, suffer and wonder. I’m pretty sure that’s what happened to Baby Kate, as well as Taniyah Leonard (though, in Taniyah’s case, which parent did it is anyone’s guess) and Shawn White. Katelyn Rivera-Helton‘s father was actually convicted of murdering her. And let’s not even talk about cases where the mother’s boyfriend, who was not the child’s father, made the child vanish.

I think Sean Phillips killed his baby daughter. He definitely did not want to take responsibility for her, that much has been established. He hadn’t told his parents about her, he told quite a few people that she wasn’t his, and he’d been frantically trying to get her mother, Ariel Courtland, to give her up for adoption. The day of Katherine’s disappearance, he was supposed to take a DNA test that he knew would establish him as the father, meaning he’d be up for child support and everything, and his parents would find out he’d had another kid and hadn’t told them for months. He pressured Ariel again to give Katherine up, even taking them all to the social services office, but she said no and made it clear her decision was final. And so he abducted the baby and got rid of her somehow — impulsively, I think, but deliberately. She’s got to be very close by his home; he didn’t have time to travel a long distance or take elaborate steps to dispose of the body. He was arrested only three hours after the abduction was reported.

Right now I’m reading a book called The Anatomy of Evil, wherein a forensic psychiatrist has this 22-level scale of evil he made and tries to classify various bad acts, mostly murders, by how evil they are. He talks about people who kill because the victim is “in the way.” If my theory about Sean and Katherine is correct, this case would qualify. Sean would then be Category 10 on the Gradations of Evil scale: “killers of people ‘in the way’ (including witnesses); extreme egocentricity.” Egocentricity is right. Sean didn’t care about how Ariel would feel when she lost her child, he didn’t care about how the baby would feel as her life was snuffed out, all he cared about was himself and how he wanted to live his life. And he still doesn’t care about anybody, so he’s sitting in jail refusing to talk because if he knows if he does talk he’ll be up for murder.

I have to also say here that I think Ariel Courtland is a very strong person. She’s maintained her composure in public and deliberately tried to say on Sean’s good side after his arrest, cajoling him with socks and money for his commissary account and visits in the hope that he’d finally reveal Katherine’s whereabouts, in spite of the fact that she quite understandably hated him. She’s going to need that strength. I just hope she has enough of it.

21 thoughts on “Baby Kate

  1. Saffy February 25, 2012 / 6:37 pm

    There was also Jerrell Willis, who was unidentified for years…
    “in May 27, 1994 the nude, battered body of a little boy was found in a vacant lot near the Benjamin Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia. The child had died from severe blows to the head. His body bore evidence of previous severe abuse, including broken ribs. On March 10, 2005 he was identified as 4 year old Jerrell Willis of Camden, NJ. He had never been reported missing. His mother was arrested in connection with his murder.”

    The father actually beat him to death and the mother helped him dispose of the body. She took a plea and testified against the father.

    • Meaghan February 25, 2012 / 6:39 pm

      Unfortunately the world is full of those people. But I was thinking more of cases where only one parent knew what happened, and wouldn’t say where the kid was.

      • Saffy February 25, 2012 / 9:49 pm

        like Sky Metalwala or Kyron Horman….ugh. horrible.

  2. Kim February 26, 2012 / 2:36 am

    Katelyn Rivera’s case is very close to Michael Anthony Hughes..the sad twisted mystery of Sharon Marshall. I think Frank Floyd killed Michael..the guy is believed to be a serial killer who likely killed Sharon and hes on death row for another murder.Frank was not his bio father though. I do think Kyron is dead but that involved a step-mom. As far as Baby Kate, I have no idea why her mother left her in the car with Sean and why she was insistant on filing for child support when she knew he did not want the kid and heavily pressured her to give baby up. Child support can come with consequences and sometimes it is not worth it to file. I think baby Kate is dead and Sean should be tortured until he reveales her whereabouts. Same with Frank Floyd.

    • Meaghan February 26, 2012 / 2:42 am

      Her mom was going to get the baby out of the car and had just run up to the apartment to get Kate’s stroller when Sean drove off with her.

      As for child support — I haven’t read anywhere that she had, in fact, filed or said she was going to, but presumably this was going to become an issue if it hadn’t already. If she wanted to keep the kid and Sean did not want it and did not want to take care of it, she would have to resort to the courts to get any support out of him.

      I don’t have any respect for a man, or a woman for that matter, who won’t step up and support their child whether they wanted the child or not.

  3. Princess Shantae February 26, 2012 / 7:35 pm

    You have to remember that Ariel and him weren’t just one night stand, they already had a baby together and apparently he supported that one. She’d have no reason to believe he wouldn’t support number two also until he said he wouldn’t.
    Its weird she thought he was a good father even though all that time he was trying so hard to not be a father. I guess she was going by the first baby, but the minute he started denying that Katherine was his and trying to get her to farm her out and not even telling his parents, that was her clue he wasn’t a good father after all.
    How did he imagine he could keep it from his parents anyway? I mean, they lived nearby and I assume they knew about the first baby, how did he think they’d never find out about Katherine?

    • Meaghan February 26, 2012 / 8:05 pm

      I read that Sean’s parents didn’t approve of his relationship with Ariel, so presumably they didn’t socialize with her or come to her house. And if he never brought her or the baby to his parents’ house, they might not find out.

      I’m not certain, but I think Sean’s parents knew Ariel had a new baby (perhaps they found out about it from a third party) and asked him about it, and he said it wasn’t his. This would explain why the articles said he had told his parents and other people that he wasn’t the father. He sounds like a very immature person.

  4. Princess Shantae February 26, 2012 / 8:29 pm

    I think they were probably both on the immature side but him more so than her, and him a lot more of a problem than her. If it was my son I probably wouldn’t be real happy that he was fathering babies so young and out of wedlock, but that would be my grandchildren and I’d make sure I was a good grandmother to them. For their protection as much as anything else. And I’d make very very sure my son did right by the babies and his girlfriend even if they broke up.

    • Meaghan February 26, 2012 / 9:12 pm

      And so you should. That’s what grandparents are for. None of my brothers have any illegitimate children (that we know of) but when my sister had one at nineteen, my parents looked after the baby while she was in college. Once she graduated and got a good job she took over.

  5. Mike Charm February 27, 2012 / 12:20 am

    Ariel Courtland is a liar. She had lied to police many times, at first denying the fact that she had adoption paperwork filled out for Baby KAte. Police found this in HER apartment, along with seaRCHES on her computer for adoptive parents. She was out smoking weed during land searches for a baby she lost. Police found a message on Phillip’s phone from Ariel the night before asking him if he wanted to come get the baby “one last time, because tomorrow it will be too late”. Some reporter/writer you are! Do your homework. The mother knows way more. She’s an idiot, and so ARE YOU!

    • Meaghan May 21, 2012 / 7:36 pm

      So, apparently, is the jury who was convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Sean abducted his daughter, and convicted him of false imprisonment last month. He faces up to 15 years in prison.

  6. Princess Shantae February 27, 2012 / 10:37 am

    Instead of calling people names, why not just post the links to where you got that info from? That way we can see for ourselves and you don’t have to look like you’re just a troll.

    • Meaghan February 27, 2012 / 1:24 pm

      I’m pretty sure it’s all gossip. For some reason the Ariel-haters ignore the fact that the police have stated she passed a polygraph, has been totally cooperative with the investigation and they don’t consider her a suspect.

      Generally, relatives are advised against participating in land searches, lest they stumble across the body themselves.

    • Meaghan February 27, 2012 / 9:26 pm

      Ooh. They have a story about a teenager from Estonia who murdered seven people (individually, not a mass murder) and, because he was a minor, only got eight years in prison. He got out in 2006 and now lives in the Ukraine.

      I’m not a huge fan of charging minors as adults — in fact generally I’m against it — but this is ridiculous.

  7. Princess Shantae February 27, 2012 / 3:17 pm

    Its in your profile of Katherine that Ariel did do some of the adoption paperwork, I guess the fact that she went that far could give somebody the wrong idea.

  8. Princess Shantae February 28, 2012 / 7:56 am

    I know. Looking at the European cases it struck me that in general Europe has some seriously light sentences. I guess we’ll hear plenty more about this Estonian guy, he’s killed seven and I don’t think he’s likely to leave it at that.
    My favorite is Douglas Crabbe from Australia. He got thrown out of a country western bar in Australia in 1983, so he got his tractor trailer rig and drove it straight into the bar. Killed like five people and at the end of it his truck was the only thing holding the bar’s roof up.
    I say its my favorite. I don’t mean I’m happy he did something like that or that I don’t feel terrible for all the people hurt or killed. But you already knew that right? I say its my favorite b/c its such a totally redneck American thing to do, drive your big rig right through the c&w bar you just booted out of. And it happened in Australia of all places. I always was interested in Australia, especially the smaller towns farther away from the coasts, which I understand can be pretty rough.

    • Meaghan February 28, 2012 / 11:31 am

      Yet somehow, in spite of — or perhaps because of — their lenient court systems, Europe has a much lower rate of violent crime than the US. Of course, the US has a lot more guns and it doesn’t have the social safety net more European countries have, and poverty is at the root of a lot of crimes.

      Awhile back Time Magazine (I think) did an article on this Norwegian prison that was on an island and was basically like a resort. Really nice accommodations and amenities, no locks, very few guards past business hours and on weekends, etc. (In spite of all this the prisoners still hated the place. Even a palace is a prison if you’re not allowed to leave it.) AND this prison had a very low recidivism rate. You can find the article online, at least, I read it online. It’s very interesting.

  9. Princess Shantae February 28, 2012 / 8:15 pm

    I read once about Angola prison in Louisiana, back in the old days it was a very orderly prison even though it housed the worst of the worst. The reason was that the prisoners were kept working at hard labor all day long and they were worked so hard that they didn’t have the energy to start trouble when they weren’t working.
    Now of course gangs run the prisons, the Bloods and the Crips and the MS13 and the Aryan Brothers.

    • Meaghan February 28, 2012 / 9:01 pm

      Well, you’ve got to give prisoners something to do with themselves, or they will find something to do on their own.

  10. melissa June 3, 2012 / 6:53 pm

    i think its disgusting people are like that.. you dont like kids or want any dont spread your legs and do stuff and dont take your thing out of your pants! come on! people who kill anybody need to get the death penalty!

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