Fire deaths ruled a homicide

Posted 5/3/21

Edgar County Coroner Scott Barrett has ruled the manner of death for both Michael and Nettie Phipps as homicides. Phipps and his infant daughter died March 1 in an early morning fire at their …

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Fire deaths ruled a homicide

Posted

Edgar County Coroner Scott Barrett has ruled the manner of death for both Michael and Nettie Phipps as homicides. Phipps and his infant daughter died March 1 in an early morning fire at their residence in Vermilion.

An autopsy conducted at Terre Haute Regional Hospital on March 2, by forensic pathologist Dele Adeagbo, revealed the cause of death for 35-year-old Michael J. Phipps was a combination of thermal exposure, carbon monoxide inhalation and smoke inhalation.

An autopsy conducted on two-month-old Nettie L. Phipps revealed the cause of death was a combination of thermal exposure and carbon monoxide inhalation.

Barrett confirmed the Illinois State Police took Stefanie L. Sanders, 26, into custody Monday, May 3, on an Edgar County warrant. Sanders is the mother of the infant and was in a relationship with Phipps, prior to his death.

 According to an Illinois State Police news release issued Monday evening, Sanders, of Tuscola, was taken into custody in Charleston. Agents from the Division of Criminal Investigations (DCI) Zone 5 arrested Sanders on two counts of first-degree murder, both Class X felonies, two counts involuntary manslaughter, both Class 3 felonies, one count of aggravated arson, a Class X felony, and one court of residential arson, a Class 1 felony.

Following the fatal March 1 fire in Vermilion, agents from Zone 5 conducted a criminal investigation with assistance from the Illinois State Fire Marshal’s Office, Edgar County State’s Attorney’s Office and Edgar County Coroner’s office.

Anyone wishing to provide additional information regarding this investigation or other crimes are encouraged to contact the Illinois State Police Division of Criminal Investigations, Zone 5 at (217) 278-5004 (tip line, callers can remain anonymous), or by email at ISP.DCI.Zone05@Illinois.gov.