By Muhammad Atef | May 4, 2021

Tuscola woman arrested in Edgar County fire that killed infant daughter, father | Courts-police-fire

TUSCOLA — A Tuscola woman is facing murder and arson charges for allegedly starting a March fire in Edgar County that killed her infant daughter and the girl’s father.

Illinois State Police arrested Stefanie L. Sanders, 26, on Monday in Charleston on two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of involuntary manslaughter, one count of aggravated arson and one count of residential arson.

Sanders is the infant’s mother and had been in a relationship with the father, according to Edgar County Coroner Scott Barrett, who ruled Monday that the manner of death for both Michael and Nettie Phipps was homicide.

They both died March 1 in an early-morning fire at their home in the 100 block of Water Street in Vermilion, about 7 miles southeast of Paris.

The autopsy “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,” Barrett wrote in a news release.

“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,” he wrote.

Sanders was arrested on a warrant issued by the Edgar County State’s Attorney, which is investigating the incident along with Barrett’s office, the Illinois State Fire Marshal and state police.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the state police’s Division of Criminal Investigations for Zone 5 at 217-278-5004 (callers can remain anonymous) or

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