What ever happened to Baby Kate?
It's been nearly two years since four-months-old Katherine Phillips disappeared in Ludington. Her father is in prison for "unlawful imprisonment" of the baby, but has never said what happened to her. Police assume she's dead and they're planning on using the expertise of an MSU researcher to find Baby Kate. Meanwhile, for two years, Kate's grandmother has made finding her granddaughter a daily mission.
"Not knowing where she's at, that's the hardest thing for me to deal with. Knowing that she's out there somewhere maybe buried somewhere little or even just laying on the ground somewhere, that's horrible to think about," said April Lange.
The shoes of Kate's father, Sean Phillips, are now key to the investigation and could be the final pieces of the puzzle leading to the truth.
"You ever watch some of these old detective shows, things like that and you'll see, oh we found mud on the tires, we're able to tie the mud to the scene of the crime," said MSU Plant Biology Professor Frank Telewski.
In a similar way, what's stuck to Phillips' shoes could connect investigators to where Baby Kate was left and they're relying on a team of experts for help. Prof. Telewski is one of them and he has it all down to a science. First he identified 10 different plant species stuck to the bottom of Phillips' shoes, like carex, red pine needles and parts of a white cedar tree. He then determined that Phillips must've walked in a muddy environment.
"We start adding all the pieces of the puzzle together. You have white cedar, ok we have white cedar. Alright, we need mucky soil, that narrows it down, we need to have these two carex species, that narrows it down even more," said Prof. Telewski.
Investigators say it's so rare that one location will have all of these elements, which gives them hope. The team is looking for volunteers to scour the Ludington area June 28th and 29th, matching plant fragments on the shoes to plant life on the ground. Professor Telewski will be there.
"I think it's important to do that work and be involved, to try to help resolve this, that's what drives me," said Prof. Telewski.
Almost two years after Baby Kate disappeared, police and experts are cautiously optimistic they can put an end to the search. Kate's grandmother is also hoping for closure.
"It would help us a lot, have closure and bury her, the most important thing is to lay her to rest properly," said Lange.