SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The wife of a soldier deployed in Iraq is charged with killing their 11-month-old daughter after the infant was found starved to death in their littered home on the Fort Leonard Wood Army post, authorities said.
The child was found dead in her mother's arms last month, federal prosecutors said.
Kristin Marie Phillips, 33, of Fort Leonard Wood, was charged with killing her daughter — the federal equivalent of a murder charge.
A spokesman for the U.S. prosecutor said Phillips would be facing at least a life sentence if convicted. Prosecutors have not reached a decision on whether to pursue the possible maximum penalty of death.
Three other children, ages 2 to 13, also were in the home and have since been placed in the custody of the Missouri Department of Social Services.
Phillips' husband is a soldier who was deployed to Iraq at the time of the girl's death but has since returned to Fort Leonard Wood. Prosecutors did not release his name.
Phillips was assigned a public defender in a first hearing Thursday. She has not entered a plea and remains in federal detention pending another hearing March 18. The public defender's office said it could not comment because the case had just been assigned to it.
According to an affidavit filed with the charges, the house was littered with trash, spoiled food and dirty laundry and there was a a strong odor of urine and feces.
Paramedics and military police arrived about 9:15 p.m. on Feb. 21 in response to two 911 calls from the home. The affidavit by an FBI investigator did not say who placed those calls.
Federal prosecutors have jurisdiction because the sprawling Army post in south-central Missouri is a federal facility, said Don Ledford, spokesman for U.S. Attorney John F. Wood.
Ledford said the infant, Alexis Nikhol Emily Phillips, was the daughter of Phillips and her husband.
Medics and police found the infant in the arms of her mother on the bed in the master bedroom, the affidavit said.
"Mrs. Phillips appeared to be having seizures but when she awoke a few minutes later, she became very agitated and combative..." the affidavit said. She was subdued and taken to a hospital.
An autopsy found that Alexis most likely died from dehydration, starvation and malnutrition the day before she was found.
One of the other children told investigators that just before medics and police arrived, her mother had locked herself in the master bedroom with the infant. The child said she heard her mother scream "Oh, My God!" several times.