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.