MASON COUNTY (WWJ) – Authorities admit the chances are almost slim to none, but it’s possible that the discovery of a little girl’s body in Massachusetts could solve missing baby mystery in Michigan.
The remains of the child, believed to be about 4-years-old, were found on a Boston Harbor beach on June 25. Police in Massachusetts distributed a digital image of what the girl, known as “Baby Doe,” might have looked like but have been unsuccessful in identifying her.
Now, authorities in Michigan are wondering if the girl is Katherine Phillips, widely known as “Baby Kate,” who disappeared near Ludington four years ago.
Police say only one person knows what happened to Baby Kate — her father, Sean Phillips, who was the last person to see her alive. Phillips is currently in prison, serving 10 to 15 years for unlawful imprisonment of his daughter.
Authorities have not identified a specific link between the two cases, but say they want to test a sample of Baby Kate’s DNA against Baby Doe’s DNA.
Officials in Massachusetts say Baby Doe is about 3’5″ tall and 30 lbs. with brown hair and brown eyes. She was found inside a garbage bag wearing only a pair of white and black polka dot pants. A zebra blanket was also inside the bag. Officials say it’s not clear if the body washed ashore or if it was placed on the beach. Reports say the remains hadn’t decayed much and were mostly in tact. There were no obvious signs of trauma to her body. A cause of death has not yet been determined.
Baby Kate disappeared on June 29, 2011. Phillips initially said that Katherine was still alive but later changed his story, saying the baby was accidentally killed and left in a “peaceful place.” Extensive searches haven’t turned up the girl.
Prosecutors say Phillips took the baby from her mother, Ariel Courtland, because he feared a court-ordered paternity test would show he was the father. Courtland said Phillips wanted to put Katherine up for adoption, but she refused.
When police went to Phillips’ house to talk to him after hearing about Katherine’s disappearance, he allegedly told them the baby was with her mother, repeating that response three times. When police asked whether Phillips was telling the whole truth, officers said he answered, “You’re right. I’m not telling you the whole truth.”
While frisking Phillips, officers noticed something in his cargo shorts pocket. It turned out to be baby clothes wadded up in a ball, according to court documents.
When one of the officers asked Phillips what it was, he answered, “Her clothes.” Officers immediately put Phillips in handcuffs.
Late last year, Mason County Circuit Judge Richard Cooper reversed an earlier dismissal of a murder charge against Phillips and ordered him to stand trial for his daughter’s death. A court date has yet to be set.
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