Stefanie Sanders

Stefanie Sanders

A Tuscola, Illinois, woman faces charges following an investigation into a March 1 fire that killed the woman's infant daughter and boyfriend.

Stefanie L. Sanders, 26, was arrested Monday in Charleston, Illinois, by Illinois State Police on a warrant obtained by the Edgar County State's Attorney's Office.

State police said Sanders was arrested on two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of involuntary manslaughter, one count of aggravated arson and one count of residential arson,

Edgar County Coroner Scott Barrett ruled the deaths to be homicides.

An autopsy conducted at Terre Haute Regional Hospital on March 2 by forensic pathologist Dr. Dele Adeagbo revealed that 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 2-month-old Nettie L. Phipps revealed that the cause of death was a combination of thermal exposure and carbon monoxide inhalation.

Firefighters responded to the early morning blaze at 102 Water St. in Vermilion, which is about eight miles east of Paris, where they found Sanders and two other children outside the building.

Paris firefighters entered the building and found the bodies of Phipps and the infant. They were pronounced dead at the scene.

Illinois State Police, the State Fire Marshal’s office, the Edgar County Sheriff’s Department, the Paris Fire Department and the coroner’s office investigated. 

State police said anyone wishing to provide additional information regarding this investigation or other crimes are encouraged to contact ISP Division of Criminal Investigations Zone 5 at 217-278-5004 or by email at  ISP.DCI.Zone05@Illinois.gov. Tip line callers may remain anonymous.

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