WASHINGTON COUNTY, Ark. – A Missouri man and Arkansas man face capital murder charges for allegedly plotting to kidnap and kill a 39-year-old after the victim was accused of sexually abusing a 6-year-old.
According to affidavits obtained by the Washington County, Arkansas Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, a group of hunters found the body of Richard Phillips in a wooded area north of Seligman, Missouri on Nov. 27. Phillips had been beaten and shot multiple times. His body had been mutilated as well.
In an article appearing in Newsweek on Dec. 8, the Washington County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office could not verify the allegation against Phillips but said that is what the defendants had claimed as justification for their actions. FOX 2 could find no record in the Arkansas court system of Phillips having been charged with a sex crime involving a child.
Investigators with the Barry County Sheriff’s Department determined Phillips had been killed elsewhere and abandoned at that location.
Phillips was reported missing from his home in Springdale, Arkansas on the evening of Nov. 23. That night, Phillips was at his apartment with a friend when two men entered and attacked Phillips.
The friend told Springdale Police the two men accused Phillips of raping a young girl. Phillips was beaten unconscious and dragged from his third-floor apartment.
Prosecutors said security camera footage shows two men dragging Phillips’ body from the apartment and dumping the body into the bed of a white GMC pickup with a diamond-plated toolbox in the bed and a sticker on the rear window.
Springdale Police found a blood trail from Phillips’ apartment to the area where the truck had been parked.
The day before the attack, a Springdale family contacted police to report their daughter missing. They told police the girl was calling and sending them pictures of Phillips’ apartment. She allegedly told her family Phillips was dead and gave the location of his body.
Detectives found the girl in Seligman, Missouri. She told police that she was at a birthday party on Oct. 27 and Phillips was also present. She told two men, Reginald Baker and Daniel Blanks, that Phillips had sexually abused her when she was 6 years old and still distraught over the ordeal.
Baker and Blanks became incensed after learning of this news, the girl said. Baker grabbed a knife with the intention of attacking Phillips, who was in another room of the house. The girl told police she was able to calm Baker down and asked him to promise her that he would not hurt Phillips.
Detectives obtained the juvenile girl’s phone and found messages between her and Baker. She asked Baker about Phillips’ disappearance and Baker denied having anything to do with it.
Police got Baker’s cell number and obtained a warrant to search his messages. Baker had sent a text message to another person asking to meet him at an address in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
On Nov. 26, the day before Phillips’ body was found, police went to that Tulsa address and located a pickup truck matching the description of the vehicle seen on the security footage in Springdale. The truck was registered to Daniel Blanks. There was another truck also parked in the driveway; that vehicle was registered to Reginald Baker.
The two men were sitting inside Baker’s truck. They were arrested without incident. Detectives found blood in Blanks’ truck and a shotgun inside Baker’s.
Both Baker and Blanks were charged with capital murder, kidnapping, and residential burglary.
Even though Phillips’ body was found in Missouri, Baker and Blanks will be tried in Arkansas because investigators believe Phillips was killed there.
(UPDATE: This story has been updated to state that Mr. Phillips was not charged in connection with the allegation that led to his murder.)