AMBER ALERT: Missing infant in Ludington; police investigating scene

9:19 PM, Jun 30, 2011   |    comments
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Video: Amber Alert: the latest from Ludington

  • Katherine Phillips (Courtesy: Michigan State Police)
  • Near Ludington - photo from Sarah Sell

LUDINGTON, Mich. (WZZM) - Police say four-month-old Katherine Phillips remains missing, and the man accused of abducting her is refusing to say where she is.

Police held a news conference Thursday afternoon, updating the media on the search for "Baby Kate," as many people are now calling her in the lakeshore community.

Investigators say Sean Phillips, 21, had an argument with Katherine's mother, Ariel Courtland, outside her Ludington home around 1 p.m. Wednesday. When Courtland went inside to get something, Sean Phillips left with Katherine.

Police arrested Sean Phillips a short time later in Scottville, but the baby was not with him.

Ludington Police issued the Amber Alert for Katherine around 10 p.m. Wednesday night.

Courtland and Phillips are parents of Katherine's older sister. Police are not confirming whether or not Phillips is missing girl's father.

Courtland spoke to WZZM 13's Sarah Sell on Thursday afternoon. The mother of the missing girl says she's trying to stay positive.

"I don't see how she could be okay, but I don't want to think like that," says Courtland. "I don't know where she's at, and as a mom it's hard. She's my baby. It's my job to protect her."

On Thursday, Mason County prosecutors charged Sean Phillips with kidnapping. He is being held on a $500,000 bond. Despite repeated questioning by police, they say he has refused to say what has happened to Katherine.

Courtland says Sean Phillips' actions are out of character. "This isn't the Sean I know," she says. "This isn't the Sean anyone knows."

Chris Merriman says he spotted Sean Phillips' car on a private road near his home on Wednesday afternoon. "I was out mowing the yard and I noticed him driving," says Merriman. "He came in, and about 45 minutes later he came out."

Police say Sean Phillips' family lives on the same road, but in the opposite direction that he was spotted on Wednesday. Michigan State Police spent much of Thursday searching the wooded area around the private road.

For now, Courtland is holding out hope Katherine will be found alive. "I think right now, it's in God's hands - whether he wants her or whether I have her," she says.

Police have eliminated Courtland as a suspect in her daughter's disappearance.

Investigators say they are remaining positive, and hope to bring Katherine back alive. "We are any time we have circumstances where a child is missing," says Ludington Police Chief Mark Barnett. "Obviously, the quicker we can find the child the better. We are very anxious to get any information we can.

"We don't have any specific information that the child is missing with intent to harm the child," says Barnett. "We just know the child is missing, and we're attempting to get her back as quickly as possible."

Sean Phillips was believed to have been seen at a Wendy's restaurant with Katherine in the Ludington area between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Wednesday.

Katherine was last seen wearing pink shorts with a matching tank top with pink and black flowers.  She's 24 in. long, about 12 lbs., and has no hair and blue eyes.

Anyone with information on Sean Phillips or Katherine is asked to call 911, or Ludington Police at (231) 843-3425.

Supporters of the search for Katherine have set up a Facebook page.

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