Stephanie L. Sanders

Stephanie L. Sanders, 26 

EDGAR COUNTY, Ill. (WAND) - The mother of an infant killed in a Vermilion fire has been arrested after authorities determined two deaths in the fire were homicides. 

The people killed in the fire, which occurred on the early morning of March 1 at 102 Water Street, were 2-month-old Nettie L. Phipps and 35-year-old Michael J. Phipps. Michael Phipps was in the infant victim's father. 

Edgar County Coroner Scott Barrett pronounced the victims dead on the scene. 

Autopsy results found Nettie Phipps died from a combination of thermal exposure and carbon monoxide inhalation. Michael Phipps was found to have died from thermal exposure, carbon monoxide inhalation and smoke inhalation. 

A Monday update from authorities said Barrett has ruled both deaths to be homicides.

Stephanie L. Sanders, 26, is in custody after a Monday arrest in Charleston by Illinois State Police. She is preliminarily charged with two counts of first degree murder (Class X felony), two counts of involuntary manslaughter (Class 3 felony), one count of aggravated arson (Class X felony) and one count of residential arson (Class 1 felony). 

Barrett said Sanders was not only Nettie Phipps' mother, but also the girlfriend of Michael Phipps, before the deaths of the victims. 

State police want people who can provide additional information about this investigation or other crimes to call the Illinois State Police Division of Criminal Investigations, Zone 5 at (217)278-5004. Callers can stay anonymous on the tip line. ISP can be reached by email at

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