SHAWNEE, Kan. — Court documents from a deadly fire in Shawnee detail the events leading up to the death of a 17-month-old on Feb. 13, 2022.
Nicholas Ecker faces counts of first-degree murder and aggravated arson.
According to court documents, Shawnee police responded to the residence at about 1 a.m. and arrived on scene to find a home engulfed in flames.
The body of the 17-month-old was found in a crib in a downstairs bedroom.
Ecker arrived on scene without being contacted by law enforcement because he had a “bad feeling.”
Karlie Phelps, Ecker’s ex-girlfriend, arrived around the same time. She resided at the burning home with their son. She faces an involuntary manslaughter charge.
Phelps said she was in Overland Park with a friend.
An officer said they overheard Phelps say, “I lit it, no I know I put it out. That would be an accident,” before blaming Ecker.
Phelps admitted in a later interview that she was at someone’s house in Wyandotte County and left the 17-month-old home alone.
Tag readers showed that Phelps was not in the area when the fire started.
Phelps willingly went to the police station for additional interviewers. She said she and Ecker texted back and forth on Feb. 12. That evening, she put the 17-month-old to bed and left.
She told officers that she remembered telling Ecker to watch the child.
Phelps then gave police consent to download of her cell phone contents.
Late that Saturday, Ecker asked about the whereabouts of the child and a series of back-and-forth messages about where Phelps was.
Ecker than repeatedly told Phelps he had a strange feeling and continued to ask about the child’s whereabouts.
Instant messaging conversations pulled from Phelps’ phone showed that she went to a friend’s house to buy prescription drugs, but she told police she changed her mind when she got there.
The friend was interviewed by police and denied that she was there to buy drugs, but admitted to smoking marijuana with her.
At 12:58 a.m. Sunday, Ecker texted Phelps,” Where is jr. Please tell me you have jr. Something is wrong.”
At about 1:07 a.m. Sunday, a text from Phelps to Ecker read, “Go get junior NOW. HES INSIDE YOU —- — I CANNOT BELIEVE YOU STARTED THAT FIRE. YOU KILLED OUR BABY!!! And you could’ve killed me!!!”
In Phelps’ friend’s interview, he told detectives that he overheard Phelps on the phone with Ecker saying the child “was in the house, why did you do that.”
Records from Ecker’s phone show it connected with a cell phone tower less than a mile away from the home that was on fire at about 12:33 a.m. Sunday.
Shawnee Fire determined the fire was intentionally set. No ignitable liquids were detected in the analysis.
At the time of the fire, Ecker was out on bond from a previous aggravated domestic battery charge.