State Attorney General, prosecutor to update missing baby case

Oct 4, 2013

Update 12:45p.m.

The AG’s office announced one open murder charge against the father of missing “baby Kate” in Ludington Friday afternoon. The child went missing 27 months ago. Schuette wouldn’t say what kind of evidence investigators had collected that resulted in the charge.

LANSING - Attorney General Bill Schuette and Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola today announced the joint filing of a murder charge against Sean Phillips, father of Katherine Phillips, the Mason County infant missing for two years and known as “Baby Kate” in the media. Sean Phillips, 23, of Scottville, has been charged with one count of Open Murder.

The criminal charge follows a multi-jurisdictional investigation by local, state and federal authorities. Schuette and Spaniola were joined at the announcement by Ludington Police Chief Mark Barnett, Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole, and First Lieutenant Kevin Leavitt of the Michigan State Police.

“My job as Attorney General is to serve as a voice for victims, no matter who you are or where you live,” said Schuette. “The filing of this open murder charge moves us one step closer to securing justice for Baby Kate.

“Since Mr. Phillips was convicted of Unlawful Imprisonment of Baby Kate in 2012, Detectives Tom Posma, Mike Kenney, and JB Wells have spent countless hours continuing their investigation which began on June 29, 2011, the date that Katherine Phillips was last seen,” said Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola. “This continuing investigation has included review of biological evidence, site visits, and the enlistment of experts from all over the world who are preeminent in their fields. It is the objective of this prosecution to finally do justice for Baby Kate. The investigators and the local law enforcement community, and myself, are grateful for the assistance of the Attorney General for providing Assistant Attorney General Donna Pendergast and additional resources to assist local officials in this prosecution.”

“Today’s announcement is the result of dedication and a collaborative effort among law enforcement investigators and prosecutors to secure justice for Baby Kate,” said Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, Director of the Michigan State Police. “The Michigan State Police is pleased to have been able to assist with the investigation that led to this criminal charge being filed.”

Posted 11:30a.m.

Authorities say they plan to announce an "important update" in the case of a western Michigan baby missing since 2011.

The office of Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says a news conference is planned for Friday at 12:30p.m. in Ludington and Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola will participate.

Details weren't released ahead of time.

Katherine Phillips was 4 ½ months old when she disappeared in June 2011 in the Ludington area, 80 miles northwest of Grand Rapids.

The case is being treated as a homicide. Her father Sean Phillips has not been charged with her death but is in prison on a related conviction.

Investigators have said seeds and other material on the shoes of her father could be crucial to the location of a body. Officials collected plants this June.