Huron Man Sentenced to 31 Years in Death of Toddler

(BEDFORD) — As part of a plea agreement, 30-year-old Jessie Phillips, of Huron, was sentenced to 31 years in prison in the September 2018 death of an 18-month-old boy.

Superior Court II Judge William Sleva sentenced Phillips Monday afternoon.

Phillips pleaded guilty to neglect of a dependent resulting in death, a Level 1 felony, and possession of meth with a fire arm. He was sentenced to 30 years on the death charge and 1 year on the drug charge.

On September 15, 2018 at 8:57 a.m. Lawrence County Central Dispatch received a 911 call regarding an unresponsive 18-month-old child at a home in the 1900 block of Old Vincennes Road.

Deputies from the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department, Huron Volunteer Fire Department first responders, and an AMR ambulance crew arrived to provide care.

When Tyler Phillips arrived, he saw a man and woman, later identified as Jessie Phillips and Kendra Mihlfeld, sitting on the front porch of the residence. He and the first responders entered the home and saw a child lying on a toddler mattress in a back bedroom.

Detective Phillips saw a large bruise on the center of the child’s forehead, blood coming from his mouth and large bruises around both of his knees. Officials say the child had been dead for hours.

Detectives, the coroner, and Indiana State Police crime scene experts were called to the scene to begin the death investigation.

A post-mortem examination was conducted the following day. The child died from an acute subdural hemorrhage of the brain caused by abusive head trauma. The manner of death was determined to be a homicide. Bruises were also found on the toddler’s head, chest, and legs.

Over the course of four days, Detective Sergeant Tyler Philips led the investigation, with the assistance of detectives, Department of Child Services, Indiana State Police crime scene investigators, the Lawrence County Coroner’s Office, and the Lawrence County Prosecutor’s Office.

The toddler’s mother, Kendra Mihlfeld, told police she had been dating Phillips for a few months. Both were living together in the home with three children.

Mihlfeld told police the last time she saw her son was 3:30 p.m. September 14, 2018 before she left work. Phillips told police was watched the children and put the toddler to bed at 7:30 p.m.

The next day, Phillips reportedly woke up the morning, showered, went to buy food in Huron and returned home when Mihlfeld came outside to tell him the child was dead.

Police seized Phillips’s phone and found a PDF that was downloaded September 14, 2018 titled “Head Injury in Infants, Children, and Adults: Triage, Assessment, Investigation, and Early Management,” according to the affidavit. The document was downloaded around the time he told police he put the child to bed.