Court records reveal more details about investigation into Shawnee fire that killed infant

Shawnee firefighters outside a home on West 69th Terrace early on the morning of Sunday, February 13. Court records now reveal the mother of a 17-month-old boy killed in the fire admitted to investigators she left the child alone at home that night. The boy's father has been charged with first degree murder and aggravated arson. File image.

Court documents released Wednesday reveal more details about the investigation into a Shawnee house fire last month that left a 17-month-old boy dead.

Nicholas Adam Ecker, the boy’s father, has been charged with one count of first degree murder and aggravated arson in connection with the fire.

The boy’s mother, Karlie Mae Phelps, has been charged with felony involuntary manslaughter and endangering a child, a misdemeanor.

Criminal affidavits for both Ecker and Phelps were released by Johnson County District Court on Wednesday.

Here are some details contained in the affidavits:

  • Shawnee Police were dispatched to the scene of the fire on West 69th Terrace just before 1 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 13. A short time later, Ecker arrived on scene without having been contacted and told officers he had a “bad feeling.”
  • Phelps also arrived on scene. A police officer on the scene heard Phelps mumble, “I lit it, no I know I put it out. That would be an accident.” Phelps then began blaming Ecker for the fire.
  • Phelps later admitted to investigators that she had left her son alone in the crib in the basement of the home on West 69th Terrace that night. She told police she went to a home in Kansas City, Kansas, with the intent of purchasing prescription pain medication but “changed her mind when she got there.” While at the KCK home, she said she received a call from her mother about the fire and went home.
  • Ecker and Phelps exchanged text messages throughout the day leading up to the fire. At one point just after 12:30 a.m. on Sunday, Ecker texted Phelps a picture that appeared to be taken inside Phelps’s house of Valentine’s Day balloons. “Who got you that?” Ecker texted.
  • After that, Ecker and Phelps continued to exchange texts with Ecker saying, “something is wrong” and “something is not right.” At 1:07 a.m., Phelps texted Ecker: “Go get junior NOW. HE’S INSIDE YOU —- — I CANNOT BELIEVE YOU STARTED THAT FIRE. YOU KILLED OUR BABY! And you could’ve killed me!!!”
  • At the time of the fire, Ecker was out on bond, charged with aggravated domestic battery against Phelps. A condition of his bond was that he was to have no contact with Phelps.
  • Shawnee Fire investigators determined the fire was intentionally set. Debris samples were collected from multiple points in the house but “no ignitable liquids were detected as part of the analysis.”

Both Ecker’s and Phelps’s next court appearances are set for March 31.